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weblog 2004

Thursday, December 30, 2004

state of teh network

this is one of those cool network diagrams like you see in cisco router books. it is an official OSI network diagram because it has a little cloud that says "internet" on it:

some people use globes to represent the internet. if infoworld has tuaght us anythign it's that you have to use clouds in technical diagrams.

the only things missing fromt eh diagram are the furniture in the apartment, the cable modem and the linksys guy are sitting on the TV in the living room. tecnhically the TV is not part of the network... but the xbox is and the xbox is plugged into the TV. in what is supposed to be the dining room, we have two big tables set up with all the puters on a swithc that is bridged to the internet by the magic of 802.11b.

this is phase one, which is complete. in coming phases i hope to add more stuff to teh network.
posted by chris 9:12 AM

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

fun with terminal server

my network at home is an interesting place. it is home to 4 windows machines (desktops for my girlfriend, my roommate, and myself plus one laptop) one linux box (two if you count my roomie's dualboot machine) and an openBSD box. i adopted this ancient compaq box with an unnamed cyrix processor. it's a socket7 chip and it says cyrix underneath. i don't want to pry the heatsink off to see any more so it will remain an unknown entity.

i put some old ram into it and dropped windows 2000 server on it. i set it up in app server mode and put office and some other stuff on it. it's slow, but it works. i figure with a bit more muscle it would be usable. what's coolest about it, is that i can use rdesktop to connect to it from my linux box.

i would like to set up a diskless or compact flash system that is completely silent (and very small) to put in the corner somewhere and use VNC, Rdesktop, and Xorg to connect to the other computers in the house. this project will have to come after some of my other projects, not to mention i will need room in my bedroom for a computer. i like the idea of a low cost machine that "borrows" idle resources from unused machines. with boxes in every operating system flavor, buying another just to put in a different room seems to be a waste.

i also put IIS on the server and i have been playing with virtual hosts and directories. i have virtual hosts working on my linux box, but for some reason they don't work on NTguy. i ave virtual directories set up. a vhost is where you set up different hostnames to serve pages from the same box. an example of a vhost would be www.domain1.com, which might serve pages from /var/www/domain1 or even c:\inetpub\domain1 while www.domain2.com would be hosted from /var/www/domain2 or even c:\inetpub\domain2. in iis a virtual directory would be http://intranet/accounting which is hosted from d:\public\accounting\accountweb and http://intranet/marketing which is hosted from d:\public\accounting\marketweb.

i wet up virtual directories in all of the user's my documents directories (c:\documents and settings\user1\my documents\user1web). i then set up the defualt web page to use relative URLs so the links are accessible from either side of the firewall (inside the firewall, the hostname is NTguy, outside it's largo.sytes.net).

i also set up the prot forwarding on my linksys router/firewall to allow http thru and to allow me to make a terminal server connection thru the firewall. i have hhtp servers on both the linux box and the NT machine so i can switch between them by changing the port forwarding.

and finally, i had to set up a dynamic DNS client with no-ip so i don't have to constantly check my IP address.

my next goal is to get an OpenBSD box set up outside the firewall with PF running and to set up PHP and MySQL and maybe even a mail service of somekind. that will have to be next year some time.
posted by chris 7:17 AM

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

open source and the digital divide

this article on free cafes in brazil helping poor people learn about computers, and this one about helping farmers in peru underscores the real edge that open soruce software has, which is price in terms of real dollars.

now when i talk about dollars, i am not talking about the imaginary dollars taht companies say that you waste by surfing when you should be working, or the phntom dollars that record companies lose to pirates, or even the fantasy dollars that i will get back from tax cuts. i am talking about actual dollars that exist in reality and that people part with in order to use software. these non profit organizations, subsidized by governments or other authorities, are waht real people and organizations, who can't afford to waste money of software licenses look like.

see, a federal government that is large enough to show up ont he radar of consulting firms is not the kind of project that companies liek IBM or MS are going to throw their weight into. ths is also not the kind of thing that MS's price slashing is going to be able to remedy. they can't afford anything, so anything that costs more than nothing is too expensive. also, these orgs are not going to register as tax deductible, so giving the stuff away doesn't profit anyone either.

and here is where open source saved the day and will alway regin supreme. yes, it probably took forever to get everything working, and a lot of it had to be created from nothing... and that is what open source is, in it's purest form: something that comes from nothing more than the time and talent of people.

these are people big enough and funded enough to not be able to steal microsoft software (like every IT professional does at home) but not big enough or funded enough to but microsoft software either.

how many fo these situations come up int he US? there can't be many or there would be an OSS integrator on every street corner, since in the US things that make money are good adn things that don't are bad. but it does prove how OSS does have a place outside of corporate greed and profit margins.
posted by chris 4:48 PM

teh plague

i am currently suffering from an illness unlike any sort i have experienced. as i may have discussed here in posts past, i have 2 kids in the daycare system. they carry with them this sort of low grade cold that all daycare children carry. i call it "the daycare cough"... it's sort of like kennel cough that you are supposed to get your dog innoculated against before boarding, only since there is no cure for the common cold, there can be no cure for the daycare cough.

so daycare kids catch all manner of stuff at the daycare center. after a year or in the daycare system, most children have immune systems that are capable of fighting off simultaneus outbreaks of smallpox, yellow fever, and all known strians of the black plague. often this happens to their parents as well and i mocked my girldfriend when she came down with something from the children. this particular outbreak was a few hours of vomiting followed by being tired for a day. the kids get something like this every year and they are better in 24 hours, on occasion i will catch something similar and be offline for a bit longer as i am old and weary.

i caught this years strain of "unnamed daycare plague" which has flattenend me utterly for 3 days and counting.

this is no ordinary illness... it is like a punishment from the old testament. i feel as though i have been beaten with a pair of sticks and left for dead, only to then have my broken and battered body diced into little cubes and stir fried with the very sticks that pummeled me so that i may be fed to some sort of hideous monster who then chewed my barbecued remains in small agonizing bites, digested me, and shat me upon a busy highway were upon semi trucks have been driving over the waste of remains at dangerously high speeds.

my girlfriend says i missed my calling as a writer. i am simply waitng for the market for poorly typed novels composed in all lowercase to open up. this blog will then join the manifestos of lunatics on the list of best sellers.
posted by chris 3:11 PM

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

CNN.com - Survey: Net file-sharing doesn't hurt most musicians - Dec 6, 2004

wow. 43% of those surveryed say it helped them, 47% said it prevented royalties, and 2/3 say it poses no real threat.

so the fractions don't really add up, but that's ok, it's still interesting ti see what actual artists (the people we are hurtig by piracy) have to say.
posted by chris 8:22 AM

Monday, December 06, 2004

teh darkside

so my quest console gaming addiction has lead me down a dark path... i have seen too many ads for halo2 and i broke down and bought and xbox. i have been playing halo2 and escape from butcher bay all weekend. both of them are pretty cool. i rented them from gamerush.

now, under the TV in my living room is my PS1, and PS2, my roommate's gamecube, and now an xbox. that means that there can be up to 9 console controllers on the cofee table at any given time. it's sick. you can literally walk into a gamestore and grab a game at random and play it at my house.

so part of it is the fact that it's an xbox, which i hated on for a while, but the selection of games has improved so i'm cool with it as a platform, the real darkness of my decision to get one has to do with the fact that i am going to mod it. the mod lets me do three things: 1) use it for more than xbox games, like playing dvd's, mp3's, and media like AVI's and stuff. 2) add a bigger harddrive so i can store all that media stuff on the player. 3) play pirated games.

number 3 isn't nearly as important as numbers 1 and 2. number 1 is part of the fruition of my TV box project. i still need a PC capable of DVR to snarf stuff off TV in order to put it on the Xbox, but in the meantime i can put all of my existing media in one place and play it on TV... once the xbox phase is complete. the big stumbling block for my original TV project has been getting a box to replace my current gaming machine, since those are the parts that will become the PVR box. but who cares about all that, let's talk about the xbox:

i am a hardened playstation guy. i have been playing playstation games for something like 6 years. now i don't have every game for the PS, but if i have played a console game in the past 5 or more years, it's been on the PS. i am familiar with the controls and the controllers and the may ps games play out, so the XB is all together foreign to me for s number of reasons:

  1. the controllers are hugantic
    the thing is a beast and dwarfs my PS controllers. it's hard to believe that these are the redisgined controllers that are smaller than the originals

  2. there's like a hundred buttons on an xbox controller.
    two triggers, two thumb sticks, a directional pad (that is a separate control from the left thumbstick) and 6 buttons on the right side of the controller. also the freaking x button is on another place, so when the game says to hit X i keep hitting the wrong thing. there are two extra buttons, the black and white buttons, that are almost hidden under the others and are easily confused in the heat of battle.

  3. most xbox games are adapted from PC games with PC game engines.
    PC games split movement and POV into two distinct functions, like with a FPS, you run with one control (WASD is the most common) and look up/down and turn left right with the mouse. this is cool with the mouse becuse it's a gross motot movement, but with the thumb, my freaking right thumb at that, it's hard to navigate. i have gotten fragged countless times in halo cuz i was runnning around in circles looking up at the ceiling or down at the ground rather than at the dude who was trying to kill me.

in all, the xbox is neat. the graphics are nicer than the PS2, and thanks to the harddrive, they load faster. a few of the titles look really cool, and a the majority are also available for the PS. once i mod it, the xbox will move beyond a gaming console and into a settop media player that also played xbox games.
posted by chris 9:35 AM

Thursday, December 02, 2004

GTA san andreas

this game and my coverage of it is totally inappropriate for younger viewers

i fell in love with GTA in vice city. for me it's great fun to run around an imaginary city blowing things up, killing people and crashing cars. there is still plenty of that in this version but with quite a few changes.

the first is that your character can change a bit over time by increasing skills. the most noticable skill is muscle. the first thing i did was max out my dude's muscle so he looks like the incredible hulk. your clothing options are different, you can buy and wear hats and individual outfits, and even get tatooed. perhaps they should call it "sims in the 'hood". one skill that i am eager to build is the pistol skill. once you hit hitman level you can use two pistols at the same time. i am all about that. i have taken to shooting everything that moves in an effort to boost my skill.

the other thing is that you are playing carl johnson, an african american dude who is back in town after a couple of years away. san andreas is a mockup of southern califronia in the early 90's and because you are a black guy, the cops treat you like crap. they are all over you for the slightest things, and start shooting way early. in vice city, unless you jacked a car directly in front of a cop car, sideswiped a cop car, or ran over a cop, or ran around with a chainsaw, they pretty much left you alone. in san andreas the cops are way more aggressive. infact, there are lots of motorcycle cops that will chase you to the end of the earth and start shooting SMG's while they chase you with like two wanted stars.

there is a country section called red county, which is all white folks, and if you beat up a single person or jack the wrong car, you get a wanted level immediately, and the po-po's is all over you. it gettin so a brother can't do nothin without the man getting all up on him.

the soundtrack, like all GTA games, is way cool. it's a lot of early 90's stuff, a whole station devoted to gangster rap (NWA and the like), a reggae station which i missed from vice city, and my perosnal favorite, one called replay, which is mostly old east coast stuff. there is a mullet rock station too... but who cares.

another thing that deserves mention are the girls. the prostitutes look like they just stepped off the set of a rap video, unlike the living dead looking ones in vice city. in red county there are these cowgirl looking babes, and downtown there are these hot corporate types in skirts, stockings and heels. i even ran across a girl in a private school outfit somewhere. there are neighborhoods broken up into different gang territories, so in the barrios the prostitutes are latinas, in the hoods they are black, you ge tthe picture. i have yet to pick up a cowgirl in red county or an office babe downtown so i don't know if they roll like that outside the hood. one of carl's skills are sex appeal, so perhaps he needs more skill to pick them up.

the cars in the early stages are not very cool, although you can get a bike which is thus far my favorite mode of transportation. also, if you crash the bike into the water, you can swim instead of drowning. i was able to jack a pizza delivery scooter, and appearantly there is a pizza delivery mission/mode that is pretty slick.

so far, that's all i have seen. most of your buddies look like ice cube or easy E, and there are these LL cool J looking guys that walk around. they are my favorites to ruff up.

the language in this game is foul. you hear the F word or the N word probably once or twice a minute.

in all the game is great and i highly recommend it. i haven't done but a handful of missions so far, tho i rarely do. i mostly just run around causing chaos and mayhem.
posted by chris 2:53 PM

fixing the blog! fixing the blog!

it sounds funny when you say it like beavis and butthead.

so the main page here is getting really long, and i have yet to discover how to romance blogger in to doing archives with my serverside includes intact... so i am going to pull out all the previous years' posts and start the 2005 blog from scratch, like i did a while back. i am hoping to also fix the overlap in the archives and some other stuff. and just rotate the blogs every year.

i have to say that hosting a blog on blogspot.com is much easier. granted, this particular blog is full of stuff that would make the blogger dudes at google/pyra cringe... so i am not complaining.

this was my first blog, and it is definitely my largest, but my blogging here has dropped off. this site is my "catch-all plus techstuff" blog. mostly i gripe about the industry and the braindonors that call me, but occasionally i talk about other stuff. i go thru phases where i am really serious about something, and it occupies all my thought. it's about that time that i spin whatever it is off into it's own blog. my current pet project is my blog about politics and the war in iraq.

so i'm sorry about not having a bunch to write here, but like all of my other writing projects, they start off strong and then fizzle out and i end up back here complaining about the IT industry again.
posted by chris 10:48 AM

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

random unsolicited IM conversations

i love these. they happen to me from time to time and they just slay me.

i love these kinds of things. they happen to me sometime but i never have the presence of mind to go anywhere funny with them.
posted by chris 1:34 PM

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

all political and stuff

right now i am more political than i have ever been. i actually registered to vote, and then i went and voted. i have never voted for anything except a school levy when i was in highschool, for the school that i was going to.

i have learned alot of stuff, and i want to say it. but rather than pollute this space with it, i'll just find another blog to write in. no i won't post the URL here either... using one dorky site to promote another dorky site is, well... kinda dorky.
posted by chris 11:23 AM

Thursday, October 28, 2004

why does the BBC report more news on the U.S. than CNN?

this is the kind of thing that causes me to lose what little faith i have in the american media. it's pretty stupid that british pubs carry this kind of info while CNN, a supposed world leader only covers the 3 ring circus that is our presidential election.

i didn't have to dig too deep to see this on the BBC site either, it is distrubing since the front page of cnn has an article about how a dude tried to kill his wife by tossing and electric line into her bathtub, but nothing about this. there was a lot of the mud slinging that candidates do in elections on the front page, but nothing that would be considered real news.

i can understand articles that don't paint the war in iraq in an unfavorable light since the war is a key point in the election, i am sure there is a lot of pressure (money) on the media to report stuff that backs up the spin on both sides of the war.

i get that the news is entertaining, and real news is often pretty dull, but come on, this is getting out of hand.
posted by chris 11:15 AM

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

t3h p41n

i taught my first kickboxing lesson in years last night. i vowed to take it easy on everyone, including myself. i am just going to have to face the fact that i am not as young as i used to be.

i have certainly been stiffer or in more pain in my life, it's just that i didn't figure i would be quite this sore from doing so little. perhaps we will do even less next time.

i haven't tlaked too much about martial arts in this blog, i tend to keep it to stupid humor and geek stuff. everytime i have an idea for something, i just spin it off into it's own blog. i am not sure how serious this will get just yet, so i don't want to build a bunch of stuff just to get 5 posts and delete it. but i did have a great time, and i am hoping to get a regular thing going :-)
posted by chris 8:49 AM

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

elevator etiquette

i am pretty neurotic about elevators, being pretty claustrophobic. i have the misfortune of working in a high security building, where access to the stairs is reserved for emergencies only. the doors aren't locked, but they will set off and alarm. the elevators are the access points for the badge readers, and therefore a necessary piece of the security infrastructure.

most of the time i am quiet about my affliction since i realize that it's kind of weird. i don't gasp audibly when it makes funny noises, even when i am certain that the thing will go crashing into the basement. i try to keep still when i am screaming on the inside. if there is no one around, i will bail out the elevator if the door makes a funny noise as it closes or if it squeaks too loud when i step onto it. i will politely let a crowded elevator go on and wait for the next one.

the one thing i cannot weasel out of politely is when people crowd onto the elevator after i am already on it. if other people want to get onto the elevator with me, i am fine with that. my personal limit is 4 others. 5 people in an elevator car is a good maximum, i think. this allows for one person to stand in each corner and for one person to stand in the middle. there is no shoulder to shoulder contact and no one is standing too close behind anyone else. i *hate* when the 4th or 5th person holds the door for two other people who have to cram themselves into the elevator.

with 6 or 8 people shoved into the elevator, that's when the elevator decided to lag on the door close, or move slowly to the next floor, or make some terrfying noise. it is at this time that i make the friendly warning: "if the elevator gets stuck, i am going to *freak out*" this way they won't be surprised when i step on thier heads to claw my way out.
posted by chris 5:37 AM

Friday, September 24, 2004

we hates XSLT precious... we hates it

about every 2 or 3 months i get mad at moreover for something and decide i need to revamp the news for the site. every time i do this i decide "this is the the day we use perl and XML" and i get started making XSLT's to convert stuff, and scheming for a better way to snarf headlines than using wget. there are lots of packages that are not installed on smaug, which is cool, i am not the only one who lives here, and i hate to bug bilbo about installing a bunch of stuff that i don't really know how to use.

i have vowed to use sablotron to finally beat this thing.

i think i have a hack to get around this thing, i just need to get it all in place.

one hurdle is the the need to write XSLT's to convert the XML feeds into HTML. this is probably pretty easy for real programmers, but for me it's a total pain since i don't know the first thing about it. i have writtent htem in tha past by following examples and using the most powerful programming tools in existence: patience and trial and error. eventually my XLSTs limp into being. it's kind of pathetic to watch the process, actually.

i should write a book: "faking the funk: technology for those who don't know a blasted thing"
posted by chris 10:13 AM

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

IMDb :: Boards :: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)

creeping the IMDB boards has become my new pasttime. IMDB is like everything i hate about usenet, distilled to the point of being comic.
posted by chris 1:03 PM

Friday, September 10, 2004

IMDb :: Boards :: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)

this is why i don't really do message boards, at least not ones with more than a hundred members.

as one guy puts it, the regulars are really high strung.

i have been known to freak out on the occasional thread, and there is a reason that no one can offer comments on this blog, but come on. get a life.

message boards attract the kind of obsessives that make me ashamed of being a geek. i really think that this line of thinking is what stops me from beaing a true geek. i don't browse usenet for this reason... the temptation to just fly off the handle is too great. god knows i have done it before before i learned how to conduct myself.
posted by chris 3:04 PM


OBSD dudes talking about security

this is rare treat. theo de raadt is to operating system security what bruce lee was to kung fu. open BSD is the most secure operating system in the world because is ships with nothing. nothing is open, nothing is enabled, and very little is loaded in terms of applications.

this is good because you will only set up the stuff that you will need. this is bad becuse if you need to do something you have to set it up, enable it, and a hundred other things to make it work. in other words, it ships hardened and you have to soften it up to work with it.

there is a bit of trashtalking the developers of the world. it's just a bit tho, becuse i think most of it is true. the problems built into lots of operating systems are small low level errors that escape the testing that is done on most applications.

the other fact is that to secure a machine you need to shut it off from everything except the things that you are going to use it for. this is hard to predict when you are shrink wrapping stuff for consumption by the mass market. so a fundamental shift by microsoft to the "it ships secure... it up to you to unsecure it" school of tought will break just about every networked application in existence. you know... stuff like internet explorer, instant messengers, all those fun wonderful OLE based applications like outlook... yeah it will all break in one form or another.

this is because freedowm and ease of use are the exact opposite of stability and security.

so while the dude is right, programmers are lazy and ignorant about security, he fails to mention how not everone wants to open up ports on their systems to play halflife or use AIM. in exchange for the freedom to load the apps you want and do the things you want with little or no configuration, you will have live with security holes.
posted by chris 1:41 PM

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

DJ Dangermouse - The Grey Album download

so drumnbaseTV.com turned me on to underground DJ's and uncleared samples. if you are a complete nerd you ahve probably heard of DJ dangermouse, who mixed the grey album. essentially it's the lyrics from jay-z's the black album, cut with beats from the beatles' white album. it was realeased to a handful of stores, and worst of all to peer to peer networks, and history was made.

this isn't the first use of the beatles in hiphop. the dust brothers worked with the beastie boys to produce "the sounds of science" for thier paul's boutique album. paul's boutique was one of the greatest works ever made on a turntable, and it used a few samples from one of the beatles greatest works, sgt pepper's lonely hearts club band. the sounds of science was made of samples from "when i'm 64" and "sgt peppers lonely hearts club band (reprise)". the brothers have helped produce all kinds fo cool stuff, including beck's odelay album, and the soundtrack to one of the best films ever made, fightclub.

i have long loved hiphop, but i am not that impressed by what's avaiable now. my favorite songs are old esat coast songs from groups like dasFX, the lords of the underground, and a tribe called quest. i set all of my favorite hiphop MP3's to play the other night and my girlfriend heard a sample from the partidge family (from hip hop junkies by nice n smooth) and said that "nothing is sacred".

i think that sampling, however controversial, is the future of new music. good beats are not easy to make, and the sounds of the past really can't be made anymore. a poorly made track (especially one with a sample from one of your favorite songs) is very easy to spot. it's not that the music of today is garbage (the stuff on the radio is for sure) it's that beats are a way to revisit great music from the past in new ways. old funk, blues, rock and even jazz riffs are great beats, which is why all the best hip is made from great old songs.
posted by chris 7:18 AM

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Sun drafts open-source blog developer: Builder AU: Program: At Work

companies using weblogs for stuff sounds pretty cool to me. i have a love hate relationship with sun... on the one hand i love how cool they are about new ideas, like thin clients, network centric computing, and above all, open source. with that siad, i have to wonder what sun is thinking sometimes since they are at heart, a big evil corporation, just like any other big evil corporation.

anyway, i hope this is a real attempt to create and expand something useful from the internet, and not just weasels hopping on "the next big thing" from the internet.
posted by chris 10:08 AM

Monday, August 30, 2004

harry potter

i am a really big harry potter fan. i know that they are supposed to be children's books, but trust me, they aren't.

the books are really good, even for adults. they strike an excellent balance between the strength of characters, and the world those characters dwell in. in the lord of the rings, the world of middle-earth is the most prominent feature, and while the wizarding world is also a strong feature, the characters themselves are equal to their setting. the supporting cast is very well done. my particular favorites are fred and george, ron's older brothers, the rebellious pranksters.

i particularly enjoy the way characters change over the course of the telling of the stories. scabbers, ron's pet rat, plays a huge part in the third story, while percy weasley, the ever conceited older brother, adds a level of political intrigue to the fifth installment.

after reading all 5 books, i am now among the millions who are waiting breathlessly for the 6th book, and now that i have read the books, i have begun to take less and less from the movies. the release of the title of the 6th book has been enough to spark debates in my family about just who the half blood prince is (my personal prediction is that it's seamus finnegan, he's the only half blood of note in the story thus far).

the series is already beginning to suffer in it's translation to film thanks to the length of the stories and the limitations film. the big screen version of the prisoner of azkaban told maybe 50% of the story, leaving out things like the animagi, who moony, wromtail, padfoot, and prongs are... they even retold the discovery of peter pettegrew, so i have to wonder how the goblet of fire will turn out.

the makers of the harry potter films should have taken a lesson from peter jackson and made extended editions for release on DVD that do the story real justice.

i know the two movie format is not a successful one, thanks to films like the matrix and kill bill, but the goblet of fire really does need more time for the story to unfold... perhaps the conclusion of the tri wizard tournament, or after the second event as a stopping point for the first film, and picking up the second film after that.

as for the fifth book... well perhaps a television miniseries like "band of brothers" or three films very long feature films.
posted by chris 10:08 AM

Thursday, August 19, 2004

DrumnBassTV.com :: radio & video

this site is pretty cool. i saw a program on DJ's and hiphop and the techniques and stuff they do, including battles. they also run videos and have shoutcast station (in winamp). you have to be into both hiphop and jungle tho, so you won't likely hear garth brooks or britney spears there. they also do webcam stuff with dudes sitting in front of turntables, so i guess if you have a thing for peeping in on DJ's that the place to go.
posted by chris 8:38 AM

Monday, August 16, 2004

sports announcers are stupid

i have been wathcing some of the olympics, and now i remember why i don't watch many sports on television.

i like any sort of martial arts competition, including boxing, but other than those, i don't really get into sports on TV except for big things, like the olypics or the world cup, largeley because of the idiots that they have doing the announcing.

see there are two types of sportscaster: one is the compulsive nitpicker and the other is the person who hasn't had an orginal thought since they were sperm and are incapable of stating anything other than the obvious... i hate these guys the most because they ask the stupidest questions. and the poor athletes ahve to play along.

one of the geniuses asked and american swimmer what it would take to win the gold. you are asking an athlete what it will take to win? here are just a couple of possible answers:
1. swimming faster than the other swimmers.
2. the other swimmers to swim slower than i do.
3. all of the other swimmers to drown at some point during the race.

i was also watching the women's gymnatics, which is a haven for the compulsive nitpicker. it's no wonder female gymnasts have terrible emotional problems and eating disorders, trying to perform so these jackals don't tear you apart is enough to give anyone a complex. these little 4 foot girls jump like 10 feet into the air, flip like 6 times, and land on their feet. not their butts, or their heads. adn if they take a step, or step over a line they get points deducted. this is ridiculous. how about getting a few points for not killing yourself?

it's even worse with the vault. these girls run at like 60 MPH into a spring board, then shoot like a hundred feet into the air. they hit the ground at like a hundred miles an hour and again a judged on the landing and being "in bounds". come on people. how about a few points for living thru that? and how about a few more points for being able to walk afterwards? the closest i have ever done to this was when playing tribes on my computer, and sometimes the little guy would die when he crash landed.

some of the gymnastic events are just scary. like the vault, where you are certain somone's spine is gonna shoot out of their backside, the uneven bars are scary since at pretty much any time someone can go flying off the top and into outer space, or worse cashing to the earth, on thier head.

watching the women's gymnastics competition has been almost unpleasant thanks to the braying of tim daggit. these girls are under enough pressure without the world's most anal retentive nitpicker ripping their perfromances to shreds. carly patterson was in every single rotation in the women's team all around, and while her performance did have a few mistakes, she didn't commit any felonies.

carly messed up on a few things, that's part of the human drama that is the olympics. but tim just kept harping on them, even when she did really well. i hope no one she knows taped the event and she watches it. i know no one reads this, but if for some reason you were to see this carly, here is the letter i would write to tim daggit:

dear tim,

you are the most negative, anal retentive nitpicker i have ever had to endure. i hope carly paterson wins the gold medal in the women's individual competition and then beats you to death with it so that you can burn in hell.


posted by chris 9:55 AM

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

i am wireless bridging master of the universe

so i *finally* fixed the wireless briding problem, and i think i got it for good.

to recap: i set up a wireless network, and plugged a switch into a wireless bridge adatper. i left the WAP in infrastructure mode so i could continue to use it as a WAP and not a dedicated bridge. it was all working except for the occasional lockup of the linksys router, and the fact that once i powered on the bridge, it threw the AP into some weird bridging mode where it wouldn't talk to my laptop.

this was fine since i would just bogart the neighbor's wireless, and i'd work thru the occasional lockup with the router.

well this weekend the locking up was out of hand, and i set about reapplying firmware, changing settings, resetting to factory defaults, and i finally got it fixed. it's amazing the results that you can get from using the right firmware, as opposed to the wrong one.

if you dudes from linksys are reading this, how about a bigger clue about the version number of the router than the microscopic sticker under the router? just a suggestion.
posted by chris 12:31 PM

Friday, August 06, 2004

phone obsession

i spend all day on the phone, so in truth a don't feel like talking on the phone once i get off work. i don't even own a home phone. i just have a cell that i am not that great about answering.

what i do love tho, is all the cool stuff mobile phones do other that let you talk, like text messaging and stuff. i would consider myself to be a bit of a cell phone freak, but there are some people out there that take it a bit too far:

one guy is nata2 this dude must have a dozen phones, and has written millions of lines fo code to hook them up to the net. he must be pretty cool if ever aspect of his life must be mobile.

these things are cool looking, and the idea of being able to IM on a real keyboard while i'm out and about is pretty cool. it's got a back lit screen and stuff and pretty much looks like a mini laptop. the only problem is the provider is Tmobile and not one of the bigger carriers. i had a voicestream phone and it *sucked*. i hated the phone, but i also hated the service, the damn thing never worked. granted this was years ago and in seattle, but what can i say, i hold a grudge.

what's cool about a hiptop is that there is a stand alone plan that doesn't include voice service, so i could get one, then keep my existing phone. that's just a fanatasy tho, cuz my current phone costs a bloody fortune, and like i said, i don't really use it. in a couple of years, the big carriers (at&t, verizon, cingular) will have something similar, and with GSM or 3G, i will be able to switch between a clunky minicomputer and an acutal phone.

i feel really rebellious not having a home phone. i would feel even more rebellious if i got something like a phone that worked over the internet. again, i really don't think i would use it, but i would feel like a rebel making calls over the internet. one such thing is vonage which looks really cool. again, i'm not sure i would use it since i activiely talk to fewer than a dozen people, but it's nice to know that i could. it's a nice way to feel that i support the stupid network.

VOIP is still in it's early stages, but in time, when the bugs get worked out, i think it will be a big deal. i have seen first hand a big corporation fielding VOIP, and it's not the holy grail, yet.

so there you have it, a rundown of telephone gear that i would love to be cool enough to need :-)
posted by chris 8:07 AM

Friday, July 30, 2004

the poisoned applet

i have about had it with the pissing contest between sun and MS over java.

the intent of sun with java was to have a cross platform object oriented language that you could develop for any operating system or hardware architecture. the reality of course is that you don't really do away with platform woes so much as replace them with Java Runtime Environment woes. tho i guess replacing a thousand platform and language woes with one language and a subset of woes for each platform is progress, it's not exactly utopia.

MS of course will do *ANYTHING* to sell more copies of windows and office. one very effective way is to appeal to application developers, who want thier lives to be made as simple as possible, and would rather write to a set of well documented and easy to use APIs than reinvent the wheel for every little thing. java could be that very thing, only the MS way is somehow inexplicably easier.

well, if you figure that sun is trying to operate across all platforms, and MS would like to eliminate all other platforms (and has done a great job of doing so on the corporate desktop) there is going to be at least a little friction between the two, especially since windows is the largest (and arguably the most important) platform for java to cross.

for some reason, sun allowed MS to create it's own virtual machine, which is all together different from the sun version (presumably part of the embrace, extend, extinguish strategy) and is *probably* easier to develop java apps for.

so that leads to two kinds of java apps, acutal sun java apps, and the MS version. this is fine for apps where you can call the VM and stuff as part of the load process. this is not possible for applets, which are run in the web browser and therefore restricted to the settings of siad browser.

yeah, it's old news, so why am i bitching about this?

well, here is a question: what happens when your enterprise installs two different types of java powered app?

you get people who call me to fix their browser settings.... and i hate that.

i have different accounts that i take calls for, each one with different levels of idiocy built in to the userbase, and fielding the same call again and again is driving me nuts. here is the basic conversations:

caller: yeah, i'm not able to log into insert MS java app here.
me: ok, have you used insert SUN java app here, recently?
caller: come to think of it, yes i have.
me: ok, click on tools, then settings, then internet options, then advanced, then scroll thru the thousand check boxes and find the one that says use java 2.
caller: ok i am not seeing anything about java.
me: yeah, it's there, keep looking.
caller: oh! i see it!
me: ok uncheck use java 2 ... (sun), then below that, under microsoft VM check 'java console enabled'.
caller: ok, done and done.
me: now reboot the computer.
caller: ok, it's restarting
(5 minutes passes wehre we talk about the weather, and i reveal that i spend less than one full minute outside on any given day)
caller: ok it's back up.
me: ok try logging in to insert MS java app here
caller: wow! that fixed it.
me: great. now when you want to use insert SUN java app here you need to undo all that stuff we just did.
caller: yeahhh, how about i just call you again?
me: or you could do that too, seeing as how i am powerless to stop you.

posted by chris 9:41 AM

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

loves me some web comics

over a year ago, i stumbled across megatokyo while shopping on, of all places, thinkgeek.com. from there, my girlfriend turned me on to a couple of her favorite comics, and discovered a few of my own. now i am a web comic junkie. my descent is so complete now that look forward to MWF so i can get the latest episodes of my favorite comics.

i am no stranger to comicstrips, when i was a kid i had every book garfield ever made.

i have a love hate relationship with megatokyo. it is a serious continuity strip, and while piro the author is ma midwesterner, the comic is distinctly japanese. MT is as close as i get to manga, or anime, or any of that ilk. i was traumatized by unexected exposure to japanese aniporn "cartoons" when i was in the army. lets just say that there are some things that you can't un-see.

so i like megatokyo because it is often funny, but there are times when the japanese hyper-drama gets to be too much. like i siad, this is great for manga fans cuz they love that kind of drippy nonsense, but not this boy. MT is organized into chapters, and the chapters open with strips with punchlines and stuff, then degrade into dramatic continuity installments, which are intersting from a story stand point, but not exactly entertaining. for gag-a-day shinnannegans, i tun to penny arcade.

PA is a comic for serious gamers. these dudes keep their fingers on the collective pulse of console and PC gaming industries. their jokes are deeply rooted in the industries, and you haften have to read the accompanying news articles to get the jokes. PA is much the antithesis of MT, so the two make a good combination.

other comics fall into the medium between the MT and PA extremes. PVP and real life comics are the best example. they have more characters and continuity than PA, but just about every strip has a punchline. all 3 comics have their own distinct senses of humor and art.

the other thing i love about webcomics are the archives. i have read the complete archives for MT, PA, PVP, plus several others. this is a big bonus when compared to newpaper or newsstand comics. news stand comics like spider man or batman, are meant to be collected, not partaken based only on content. if you were able to read a whole series of batman in a single pass, you may not experience it the way that you would in monthly installments, let alone day by day. i think this means that web comics are the next evolutionary step in comics.

posted by chris 1:05 PM

Friday, March 26, 2004

can you hear me now? good!

so i moved to a new apartment, and no longer being albe to bogart the wireless network that i set up for my parents, i had to set up my own. my previous effort was a masterpiece of uplinking, hanging a hub off the DSL modem so two computers could sit outside the firewall, and a drop downstairs (punching a hole in the wall and everything) to a hub for my computers. i was a sad day when i took it apart... i liked all the blinking lights.

in our new apartment it was decided that we did not need a dining room, and so all the computer gear went there. sadly, most americans don't watch television or talk on the phone in the dining room, so there are no hookups for broadband in the dining room. i needed to put the broadband modem somewhere near a phone jack or cable outlet, and then snake cable all over planet earth. well, property managers aren't exactly keen on puching holes in the walls or the carpet in order to run cables thru/under them, so a better solution was needed. in the age of wireless networking, this sounded like a simple fix, except that half of my computers don't run windows and therefore don't deal well with wireless, and besides five wireless adapters was going to be a bit pricey. i needed to hook a hub up to the wireless, which means one vulgar word: bridging.

i have had some experience bridging wireless networks, my friend set one up a couple years ago, when you had to use wireless access points to set it up. this meant that if you wanted to bridge the connection between a hub and a router you needed two access points... and both APs needed to be in bridge mode, which means that neither AP can provide wireless access to wireless nics, so if you want to bridge a connection for your hub, and you want wireless access for your laptop, then you will need three wireless access points. i was not looking forward to spending almost $300 on an "invisible cable".

fortunately wireless has come a long way since two years ago. 802.11b gear has come down in price and linksys makes this wonderful little guy that can bridge to an AP that is in infrastructure mode (as opposed to bridge mode, where it can't serve wireless clients). so i felt encopuraged again.

i scoured the net looking for an FAQ or something on the the particular setup i was going for. there is lots of information on configuring it, hooking it to a printer or an Xbox, but nothing on plugging a hub to it. the ad actually says "anything with an ethernet port" but not a hub or switch specifically. in the end i took a deep breath and ordered the thing online (the local electronics stores had plenty of wirelessG bridges, but no B's).

well i got the gear in, set up the broadband router/AP in minutes (they are very simple to set up, plus i have configured over a hundred of them) and set the bridge up. it worked flawlessly with my laptop plugged directly in to it, but when plugged in to the hubs uplink port i got no results. i tried a number of things like changing IP's and cables, pouring over the rather sparse documentation, and searching the net again. i finally admitted defeat and called linksys, where i talked to a friendly indian dude named shawn. after a few minutes of tinkering shawn recommended plugging the bridge into a regular port on the hub and not the uplink. and wouldn't you know it, it suddenly started working.

so i have a hub with all my PCs bridged to my wirelessB network and everything is working great, for about $150, about half the price of the first bridge i saw set up :-)

like with all things linksys, there is one issue: my wireless laptop is not able to talk to the wireless network now. it's as though somehow hte AP got thrown in to bridge mode instead of infrastructure mode. so right now i am cheating and bogarting my neighbor's wireless netowrk connection. i'm sure he wouldn't notice the difference, until he checks his logs and sees all the questionable material that crosses his network :-)
posted by chris 2:06 PM

Monday, March 08, 2004

the eternal struggle

i read interesting satire about the plight of developers in corporate IT. this is interesting because it touches on the eternal struggle between devs and corporate IT admins, which no one except dilbert likes to talk about. the article itself is shamelessly dev centric, and rails against the "excessive" administration that is present in IT now.

for those of you that may either be unaware, or too firmly entrenched in your camp, here is the hitchhiker's guide to the problem: devs work very hard on code that is very complicated. they have tools that they need to use (editors, compilers, debuggers, source management clients, and the like) and unlike your typical user, devs require more. they need more resources (disk space, memory, cpu power), and often more control over their machines and even servers. the plight of the IT system admin (everyone from the lowly helpdesk agent up to the mightiest network engineer) is to manage the chaos of the coporate infrastructure. between virii, system updates, bugs in applications, and the difficulties of users, IT staff is pulled in several directions and faces many foes.

so the struggle comes when IT staff apply their weapons against the chaos: support policies, system standards, and management. for the typical user, once your machine is outfitted with the tools you need to work, you can go on using that machine until it dies or is rendered obsolete. unfortunately devs are not typical users. so antivirus clients, login scripts, hot fixes, restrictive security policies, firewalls, and even disk quotas are implimented to wage war on crashes and outages caused by chance, malice, and stupidity.

in the war on downtime, devs are collateral damage.

the IT argument is this: there is a standard that we provide support for. it is our policy that if you do not conform to that standard, we will not support you.

the dev argument is this: i have a project to complete or a product to ship and i need complete control over my tools so that i can get it all done. your standards and policies are too restrictive and stand in the way.

both parties have very valid points. and depending on who has the political backing, there can be very different outcomes.

i have worked on both ends of the spectrum, on the development side i have worked as a program manager, handling devs and testers, a lab manager, maintaining the test bed for emerging software, and even as a tester. while i have never been a dev myself i have worked side by side with them, and even managed them to a certain extent. i have been restricted by the policies and standards put in place, and had to contend with the setbacks that this produces.

i have also been IT guy, supporting desktops, servers, and even as a helpdesk agent. i have had to enforce the policies that devs rail against, and been on the business end of more than one angry dev when he has been stifled by a problem.

i have also worked in a very pro IT environment and a very pro Dev environment, and i think i have a good idea how both halves live.

there are two primary problems that lead to this struggle: 1) IT types are anal retentive control freaks and power mongers, and 2) devs are spoiled little brats who have to have everything their way. the hubris and the territorial whizzing gets so deep so fast you need wings to stay above it.

the pro dev environment is one where devs are allowed essentially free reign on their systems, and even the servers. microsoft is a very pro dev environment, so i hear. i worked for a startup company that was very pro dev. in these environments, the burden of support and responsibility falls on the devs. they are guarding all the doors, they are holding all the keys and it is their responsibility to get things working. the trouble is that not all devs know systems the way IT guys do, and sometimes they need to call for help. the help that can be provided can sometimes be limited.

i am reminded of the time, in my previous life as a deskside support tech, i set up a test server for a dev and his ASP code didn't work the way it worked on the production server. it called some thing that sent mail, and it wasn't working. so i asked him what the thing was, and he said the server wasn't configured properly. when i told him that a vanilla NT server with IIS and SQL cannot send mail of it's own accord, a lengthy discussion of CGI and forms began with me saying over and over again, "your page is calling some thing to send mail. tell me what that thing is and i will install it for you. if you don't know what the thing is, i can't install it."

the pro IT environment is one where the IT staff executes rigid control over desktops, servers and the network itself. machines have very standard images, you need to complete paperwork to make any change to a network account or a machine setup, firewalls block just about everything, and doing anything but company business on a comapny machine will get you fired. these rather draconian policies don't leave much room for "unique" applications, non standard peripherals, or rapid changes that need to be made to servers. every change takes two weeks, the approval of a manager, and a detailed changelog. the end result is stable systems, very few surprises, and no chance on earth of deveoping and usable software.

this time i am reminded of my previous life as a lab manager. i had two network cards in my desktop PC, one that let me access the corporate network, and one that let me access the lab network. the labnetwork had novell servers and IPX/SPX, while the corporate network was all TCP/IP and NT boxes. this really isn't the giant security hole it sounds like. i had IPX/SPX bound to one nic, so i could hit all the novell shares that were the backbone of the testing network, and TCP/IP bound to the other so i could do my thing ont he company LAN. i could never call the helpdesk for help since news of my "problemmatic" confiuration would always cause trouble. the phrase "no i am not 'routing' i'm just connected to two networks" became a sort of mantra.

so what are we to do? my solution is simple: give everyone what they want.

if your development staff needs to exercise complete freedom over their workstations, and they want to be treated as VIP's, and can't be bothered with firewalls and other nonsense, then give them their own network to do with as they please, and let them be gods on it. if they want to use the corporate email system, then they will need to toe the line. when they are ont he corporate network. give them corporate network accounts and sessions on a terminal server so they can check their email, access the intranet and perform all the functions of common network peasants. that way the corporate network is untouched and can be as rigidly controlled as the IT department wants it to be. the devs can live in their own world, and sitll have the standard presence in the corporate one.
posted by chris 4:50 PM

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

hi tech but not technical

among geeks, one's prowess with technical things is a mark of status. being able to work technical stuff (hardware, networking, coding) is known among young geeks as being leet (l33t), and among professionals as being technical. being technical, or rather how technical you are, is characterized by being able to fix stuff, find bugs, write code, or otherwise make computer stuff work. i would like to think of my self as at least moderately technical, tho i have met people who are way more technical than me.

with the pervasiveness of computers, and especially the internet, there is a presence of people lacking in technical expertise thrust into the domain of those who are technical. technical types call these people lusers. geeks and lusers are nothing new, but what about people who are hi tech enough to use computers, the internet, and even game, not just effectively but admirably without being technical?

i have been reading william gibson's latest book, "pattern recognition" and the main character, cayce pollard the fashion consultant, is a capable computer user, tho she is not technical. she is sufficiently plugged in to internet culture, to the point that she uses the word google as a verb, and quantifies her coworkers by what she finds by googling them (known as googlejuice, of which i have zero). she is a capable mac user (she works in advertising, so i guess that's ok :-) and she is a serious personality on a web board that follows the footage around which the story revolves. she knows enough about browsers and the web to know when someone has been using her computer to surf for pr0n. in other words she is more than just computer literate, she is high tech, but she is not technical.

my girlfriend is another example. she is a gamer, she has a digital camera, does SMS messages on her mobile phone, and knows what kind of video card is in her computer. she is an avid sims fan as well as MMORPG fan, and has helped me fix a glitch or two in asheron's call. she is certainly a geek (we went to the lord of the rings trillogy tuesday together, the two towers was our first date, and she's worked at the rennaissance festival), unlike cayce in the example above. she also happens to be a real woman, as opposed to a fictional character, which i kinda dig.

who are these people? are they a secret minority? are they an anomally? is it the result of some predisposition? are they people who work and/or play among geeks and become solid state by some sort of osmosis? were they lusers who somehow became upgraded? more importantly, becuse labels are so important, what do we call them?

the term neep-neep from jargon file comes close to describing the phenomenon, but i prefer the term squib. in the harry potter books, non-magical people from magical families are called squibs this is far different from a muggle, who is a non magical person who is ignorant of the magical world. squibs are aware of the magical world, though they can do no magic themselves. a squib is the opposite of a muggleborn, a wizard from a non magical family.

a more philosophical term might be bushi, the japanese word for warrior. the way of the warrior and the code that a samurai lives by is known as bushido. a bushi is a warrior, but lacking the status (and presumably the talent and training) of a samurai. this is different from a ronin, a samurai that serves no daimyo (either by circumstance, disgrace, or choice). all ronin are bushi, but not all bushi are ronin.

my hope is that there are many more squibs out there. perhaps they are mistaken for geeks by lusers. perhaps the word geek is overloaded. i would imagine that researchers, graphic artists, and many students could be considered squibs.
posted by chris 11:26 AM

Monday, February 23, 2004

t3h f4|\|to/\/\ /\/\3|\|4c3
too many people are getting way too bent out of shape over the phantom game console. go ahead and visit the phanom website, watch the flash videos, see the artist renditions of the console and get your head around the concept of what it is, or is going to be, when it is released.

no seriously, go to the site first.

now see what everyone else has to say:

like penny arcade:
one article

some cartoons:
thinking the product manager is on drugs

not liking the networked gaming model

thinking the CEO is not a nice person

to put things in perspective, the penny arcade dudes are not exactly receptive to new gaming platforms.

but CNN had something to say but mostly it just points to this article on hard OCP which is what caused all the trouble.

the trouble being a lawsuit filed by infinitium labs to pull the article and print a retraction or face litigation. that's right. sue your ass! sue your ass! thank god all mighty i'll sue your ass!

here is where i think we have all gone totally wrong here:

infinitium did nothing wrong. there is nothing wrong with hype. there is nothing wrong with hyping something to get pre orders so you can get your product out the door. that was a legitimate business model for evey dot com during the bubble. calling yourself a world leader in global whatever, when you are operating out of mailboxesETC and your garage is a little ballsy, but certainly not wrong. VA linux, dell computers, amazon.com, all got built up from nothing.

hell freaking microsoft, the biggest software company on the planet got put on the map courtesy of a smoke and mirrors show and some fast talk with IBM. bill gates didn't present MS dos to IBM, it was QDOS (which litterally means quick and dirty operating system) on a computer designed to operate model electric trains. IBM licensed it, gave them enough money to acutally develop it and the result is the most popular operating system in the world.

see, part of being the best is looking like the best. if you halfstep in your approach then you're toast. bigger companies have brand names and histories and actual products, if all you have is story to tell and some flash animation then you're gonna have to do a little pretending. pretending isn't illegal. it's not even immoral. you do it at job interviews, first dates, and anytime you have to sell someone something. if you are selling a story (which is what you are doing for investors) and your story turns out to not have a happy ending, well you shouldn't be taking investments from widows and orphans in the first place.

they hyped something that wasn't finished. they didn't boil kittens.

ok, so infinitum is using a little poetic license (ok a lot of it, mixed with tall tales) and got caught. yipee let's make fun of them. ha ha, they suck. it's all good entertainment. but IL goes and files a lawsuit claiming financial damage which i can only assume is because investors pulled their funding. come on IL, own up to it. you came big, but you didn't come correct and you got punk'd.

so here's the score:

1 penalty point to penny arcade/hardOCP for demonizing IL for hype. if hype is a sin anyone who has ever sold a piece of technology is going to hell.

1 penalty point to IL for not taking the exposure of it's dirty laundry like a man. if you're talking the talk and not walking the walk, someone's going to find out.

i empathize with infinitum cuz i worked for a startup company, and my particular ride was an emotional rollercoaster. you get so firmly behind the idea, that it hurts when the company is in trouble. in my case i sacrified a lot, hoping for a big pay off. it hurt, but it was a gamble. i knew what i was doing and i have no one to blame but myself. no one held a gun to my head and said "quit your job and move across the country to join this company or we'll kill you." i know that investors are greedy and ruthless and will play games with you and your company in order to dilute* you. i know i was crushed when my company closed. i didn't own anyhting, not a single share, but i had a very good time working there and i loved the people i worked with. i spent loads of time there and i was angry when they shut us down. i get wanting to blame someone, but filing suit? come on IL.

(*dilution is getting a bigger piece of company in exchange for your investment, in our case were tricked into getting another round of funding from our investors when we should have gotten funding from other investors, so the leaders of the company kept more control.)

then i went to the phantom forum, where the pro phantome folks (called phanboys, LOL) are flaming away at people who have read the articles. the phanboys sound pretty much like talking heads.

here are a bunch of links about the debacle:






and here are some random thoughts about the whole thing:

the console is called the phantom... as in like a ghost, something that you can't tell if it's real or not.

if you were going to try to sell a piece of vaporware, why would you call it the phantom? why not just go ahead and call it vaporware?

one of the law firms in the proceedings is Morrison & Foerster LLP, their domain name is mofo.com. that's right, MOFO.
posted by chris 12:11 PM

Thursday, February 12, 2004

why do i do this to myself?

i read that ZDnet article, then i read some of the talk back for it. i don't know why i do that, it's always the same stuff... kinda like usenet only not as creative. i myself have made more than one inscindiary post to a public forum, but i'd like to think i have a little more style. here is a summary of most talkback threads.:

post 1: {by flametroll}: git a job u commie linux wankerz.

post 2: {by fallz4flamebait}: STFU flametroll, linux rocks.

post 3: {by RealSystemsGuy1}: the article fails to mention obscure Open Source application number 12 (www.obscureOSSapp12.org) which addresses this problem fully.

post 4: {by linuxZealot}: yeah fallz4flamebait... linux is powaa! the author is on Micor$haft's payroll. go to hell flametroll. we are taking over the world. free kevin! l33t h4x0rz untie.

post 5: {by linuxZealot}: i mean unite.

post 6: {by RealSystemsGuy2}: i agree with systemguy1 except that you can do the same thing in windows with KB article q66666... just change the registry:
just change the value for "works?" from "no" to "yes"

post 7: {by flametroll}: get a job linuxZealot.

post 8: {by linux zealot}: you're still a virgin, aren't you flametroll?

and it just degrades from there.
posted by chris 1:55 PM

competing with open source

more business types are grappling with open source. i hate when they do this. see sales and marketing types are clueless weasels when it comes to technology. i say this because only a weasel would try to suck money out of everything it smells. whenever someone talks about open source, the question of money comes up. everything in technology ends up being about money in the end. technology is about ideas and using those ideas to solve problems, you can't quantify the coolness of something with a pricetag.

open source software, especially when you give that software away, will not make you money. see, if you don't ask people to give you money, they won't give it to you. i learned that in a business class i took in highschool. you have to give people a reason to give you money. in weaselspeak is is called a "deliverable".

the way OSS can help is if you want to make a product or service and not have to build software into the cost. ISP's and web hosts do this and it works. they all provide services, and being able to use commodity hardware and open source software is a good way to reduce costs. this is the lesson that novell, sun and IBM are learning. if you want to make something that will require an operating system, a database, a webserver, mail server, or whatever, and you don't want to add the price of the software (which in the case of oracle, sql server, or DB2 can be tens of thousands of dollars) to the price of your product or service if you can avoid it. if you want to get into the business of inplimenting or supporting something, it would be nice to be able to provide the software at a reduced cost and charge for your implimentation and maintenance. note that no where in that model is there a *sale* of the software. open source software is a plentiful commodity... so plentiful that you probably shouldn't charge for it.

some things are more important than money. like the internet. it's not always possible to make money online, but being able to connect and exchange infromation is always important. part of the reason the internet is so pervasive is it's relatively low cost. if the internet wasn't such an affordable means of communication, it wouldn't be nearly as wide spread, nor would it be as important as it is. part of the reason it is so affordable is most of it doesn't make money.

that is why i hate discussing technology with business weasels. they have to suck money out of something, and if it doesn't make enough money, they close it down. great ideas that don't make money are somehow regarded as not so good anymore. the same is true of bad ideas that do make money. if money is the quantifier for a technology (as it often is with art, fashion, stocks, automobiles, or electronics) then technologies like BIND (which most of the internet runs on) or apache (again, most of the internet runs on) are worthless. the same could be said for IRC, bit torrent, or even perl... all of which is utter nonsense. the money something makes *should* be an auxillary benefit to the service it provides. i realize that in reality, money is what drives it all, i just disagree.

the microsoft stance that open source is an attempt to commoditize the software industry may be partially true. the stance that this is unamerican commie pinko bullcrap is entertaining at best. with a working suite of commodity software solutions, commercial vendors will have to really step up to provide features and support that are worth paying for, or cut their prices down to that of the OSS level. that's called competition folks, and it's a good thing.
posted by chris 10:55 AM

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

chutzpah defined

according to this article sun made a bid to migrate IBM's internal systems to it's new linux distro. according to dictionary.com, chtuzpah is defined as:

[Yiddish khutspe, from Mishnaic Hebrew upÔ, from ap, to be insolent. See p in Semitic Roots.]

1) n : aggressive boldness or unmitigated effrontery; "he had the audacity to question my decision"
2) n : the act of pitching your new product to your biggest competitor, to be used for their internal systems. syn: cojones.

ok, the second definition is mine... come on, it's funny.
posted by chris 12:06 PM

Friday, January 30, 2004

are you there god? it's me the helpdesk guy

so it's been a tough week for me at work, so i'm gonna vent a little here, where no one will read it. see i take computer help telephone calls for a number of companies. if your company has outsourced it's helpdesk, and it's not a giant corporation, chances are it was outsourced to a consolidated operation like the one i work for.

now i used to talk trash about helpdesk guys, but that will be nothing compared to the trash i am about to talk about the organ banks that that call helpdesk guys.

so here in no particular order are the things i would like to smack users in the head for doing:

  1. not being able to read a dialog box- if a little box pops up that says "username or password invalid" that means that either the user name or the password that you entered is invalid. that's why the little box popped up... to let you know that the user name or the password that you entered was invalid, you would never know that unless you read the message in the dialog box, which you did not do. if it says click ok to continue, that means that in order to continue, you will need to click the button that says ok, thereby indicating to the computer that you would like to continue.
  2. not knowing how to take the battery out of a laptop- companies should make salespeople pass a basic mechanical inclination test before issuing laptops. if you are unable to put all the round blocks in the round holes, and all the square ones in the square holes, you should not be allowed to have a laptop. the results of the test should read like this:

    dear user,
    due to your failure to demonstrate the basic logic and motor skills necessary to successfully operate a mobile computer, your request for a laptop has been declined. you may re-test after a period of 90 days. we suggest you invest in a copy of "the idiot's guide to basic computing for dummies, small children's edition" and attend a course avaialbe at any local elementary school, known as kidergarten.


    the management

  3. not knowing the difference between the internet and the VPN- the internet is where the porn comes from. the VPN is where your email comes from. you cannot get into the email (VPN) unless you are connected to the porn (internet).

  4. not knowing that there is a numlock on your laptop keyboard- if you get number instead of letters when you type, it's on. i don't how the numlock got on, nor do i care. it's on now and you need to turn it off. no i can't help you find it. i've only memorized the keyboard layout on 100 laptops, and none of them are yours. your life will return to normal once you turn it off.

  5. not knowing that you use software to burn CD's- you can drag files to your cdrom all day long, they are not going to show up on that disk. open you burning software and create a CD. the wizard will walk you thru it. they make wizards for stupid people like you, so you don't have to call people like me.

  6. thinking broadband internet access is always on- periodically the little modems quit talking, pulling IP's or whatever. reboot them and go on with life. i know you have 3 other computers that are working just fine. don't reboot them. no it's not my fault. call your ISP and gripe at them, please.

  7. telling me they are computer illiterate- you don't have to say it, i knew it as soon as you opened your mouth.

posted by chris 12:42 PM

Monday, January 26, 2004

my great linux debate

so i have long been a redhat guy, to the exclusion of all other linux distros. in the beginning, i tried slackware and found the installer was *really* difficult (granted, this was in 97, i think the slack version was like 1.x) and really liked redhat 5.2. now that there is no redhat version, just fedora which will come out every couple of months, i was looking for a new distro. have openBSD set up as a firewall and router, which is really nice, ultra stable, tho it's not running X or many of the tools i'd like to tinker with. oBSD is pretty high on a geek's ascension to nirvanna, so for me it should be used as a building block for network infrastructure, not as a desktop. see, the harder it is to set something up, the harder it is to break. i liken it to the three little pigs. windows is building your house out of straw, linux is building it out of sticks, and bsd is building it out of bricks. for my house of sticks, i was going to use debian. that's what all the very user friendly distros are based on, but being the macho geek that i am, i could never use a sissy user friendly desktop.

say it ain't so

installing debian via FTP proved difficult, if not impossible. as did a number of other distros. in the end i had to pony up and download an ISO. t3h sh4/\/\3. so to save my macho geek pride, i downloaded slackware. i figured if i have to wuss out and load off CD, the least i could do is pick the toughest distro to configure.

aside from the usual download and media troubles, the install went fairly well. they say to use *new* floppies with rawrite, but i never believe that until i have fried every disk in the house. the boot from one disk, do the install from another two disks required some reading, but i managed to get it all installed and set up, including X. no sound yet, but i don't have speakers plugged in to that machine yet, so it's no loss. update: ok, i had no clue how to go about setting up my sound card. i was all like "WTF?" no sndconfig tool, no linuxconf... i was thinking i would have to post to some slackware board like a n00b cheeseweasel to figure out the secret. then, just for the hell of it, i plugged in my headphones, downloaded a red martian mp3, and fired up xmms and i heard music. let me say that again in case you missed the gravity of that satement: i pressed play and the music was just "there". i didn't configure anything. no recompiling of anything, no down loading, no setting of IRQ and all that crap in a config file. as if by by the very same dark wizard magic that makes windows work... the sound was just there.

to say that my mind was blown is the understatement of this or any other century.

so far, the latest version of KDE is very nice looking. i haven't gone nuts with the custom configs just yet, other than transparent terminal windows and setting the wallpaper. in time i will get VNC and all that other good stuff set up, but i just got done with the install saturday nite.

next on the list fo things to do: set up apache and ftp and tweak the firewall to redirect ports. then i just have to get some kind of dynamic DNS thing set up. oh, and write a bunch of XSLTs so we can get syndicated news from cool websites like slashdot.
posted by chris 8:18 AM

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

biodiversity and computer virii
this is a fascinating article on how agricuture can teach us something about computer software. i am fascinated by biological principles in computing, everything from how bees interract to ways animals evolve and adapt to changing environments. diseases are interesting parallels for computer security, since i think that we have not seen the most destructive virii yet to come.

at the risk of sounding like that guy who says "see, that's why we need linux" in response to everything from pollution, to peace in the middle east... open source could be a solution to this problem. actually it's not so much open source as it is a reliance on a single platform or product, instead of a given set of features.

see, the computing world, both consumer and corporate, wants everything to be the same. it should not come as a surprise that corporations are hardest hit by these sorts of outbreaks since they are the ones who enforce these policies of uniformity. corporate IT does this for a very good reason: to reduce the number of surprises that come from from supporting servers, desktops, and applications. this has been an ongoing theme in computing since the dawn of the PC: logo compatibility, minimum system requirement, open standards, it's all geared around keeping things talking and working together. this is a Good Thing (tm), but allowing the similarities and sameness to get out of hand is not.

thanks to my openBSD experience, am a big fan of the "no surprises" approach to software. with that said, i think a migration from "mandatory uniformity" to "compatible diversity" is in order.

Instead of focusing on keeping everything the same (same OS, same applications, same hardware, same everything), i think the emphasis should be on providing the necessary features, but providing them thru radically different mechanisms. good examples of the are the internet iteself. there are a veriety of email servers, webservers, DNS, and routers shuttling stuff around, different CPUs, OSes, and yet it all works. if we coud take this kind of interoperability from the network infrastructure level, down to the application level, then we could achieve "biodiversity" with out sacrificing usability.

see, it doesn't matter who makes the software, or even how the software works, as long as it works. if you can connect and operate, regardless of your browser, os, or hardware platform, then does it really atter that it's not windows? one of the arguments in the great open source debate is over forking. well, in the biodiversity front, forking is what you want. in the animal kingdom, being able to eat just about anything and survive decreases your chances of extinction. if you only eat one particular type of food, you will suffer from chages in the climate, the diseases that can break out, and eventually, starve. on the computing front, being identically onfigured, bug for bug, with the rest of the world, makes you vulnerable to the latest outbreak of whatever nastiness has hit the net this morning.

so the answer to this problem isn't so much "linux" as it is "diversity". if the world can still turn with diversity, there are other healthy things, like competition, open standards, and adverance to those open standards, that will come in to play.

why won't this ever happen? because too many changes have to be made. too many people will have to leave that which is comfortable, and venture in to territory that is not. see, too many fortunes have been won building the problems that we face. this isn't a "microsoft's greed has runied everyting" argument. this is as much the fault of the system engineers, lazy corporate employees, and greedy business managers, as it is microsoft's. retraining your workforce won't cost that much... they don't know how to use the software they have, not knowing how to use new software isn't going to make a huge difference. supporting systems that are more stable and less likely to be damaged by malicuous attacks will make up for the need develop and support customized applications. having a big company to support you is nice, but if you have a *real* problem, you are up the river anyway, wouldn't it be better to fund your support staff and keep that capability in house?
posted by chris 12:34 PM

Monday, January 19, 2004

the big dawg speaks
so john "maddog" hall spoke at some linux conference. i like when he talks, cuz he's visionary, but he's a practical visionary. some of my other open source heroes, like eric raymond, or richard stallman, can be pretty militant and a little unaccessible for normal people. i say that because you have to know and understand the idea behind open source before you can glean anything from what these guys say. john hall is a ittle closer to planet earth, at least for a linux guy.
posted by chris 11:29 AM

the sco/linux debate gets perverse

ok, sco vs. linux has replaced napster as the "lazy man's way to get press". all you have to do now is take a marginally novel shot at sco to produce a decent article on the subject. it was only a matter of time until someone dragged sex in to the issue.
posted by chris 10:59 AM

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