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Friday, December 30, 2005

 
state of teh network, 2005

my home network has undergone two radical changes. 2005 saw the addition of a VOIP phone and the addition of the triad network. the VIOP phone was a simple addition, it just plugged into my linksys router. the addition of the triadnetwork is a long and arduous tale full of gnashed teeth and broken dreams. in the end, the networking portion is done, for the most part. here is a little diagram:

one setback was the dream of putting a unix machine outside the firewall. my stupid ISP only gives me one registered IP, and i already have ntguy using port 80, so i need to either run the unix boawks on something other than 80, or load php and mysql and whatnot on NTGuy. another option is to get a friend to host the machine, an idea which i haven't totally given up on.

posted by chris 6 :24 PM


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

 
possibly the funniest thing i have ever seen

i am powerless to resist the shows on VH1. it's not that i like them per se, i just become absorbed in them. the idea of watcing people on TV, making fun of stuff that's on TV sounds pretty stupid, but is somehow entertaining.

so i was watching this countdown of pranks, and they run this segment that made me laugh hysterically. the rick james thing on chappelle made me laugh so hard that i fell off the couch. i quite nearly blacked out, and a little bit of pee definitely came out. this clip is up there with rick james.

the premise is that they hired this guy to inventory this scary looking laboratory in the middle of the night. the lab was supposedly used for animal experiments, and the guy is this peta activist. oh, and the dude is a flaming queen. they scare the hell out of that poor guy and he screams better than any hollywood scream queen in the history of cinema.

he did such a good job, i think there needs to be a horror film that features a gay dude as the scream queen. hell, you can call it "scream queen" if you want.

one of my favorite shows is myth busters. that show is entertaining on many levels. one is the hot red haried girl talking about science stuff that i barely understand. part of it is the two special effects guys acting goofy while blowing shit up. mostly tho, it's their crash test dummy, buster. i love watching them throw him out of windows, or running over him with cars. this video clip leaves myth busters in the dust. i will be the first to admit that i have a strange and almost sick sense of humor, but i don't care who you are, that shit is funny.

posted by chris 8:15 PM


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

 
the triad network
an exercise in frustration

i am trying to set up a small lan that i can do stuff with. so far i have been met with setback after setback. to get the gory details of the project, click here.

first came the design frustrations:
my first plan was to set up a few scavenged machines, assembled from discarded parts, the most powerful of which would be the server. i have a bunch of little crappy boxes in various states of completeness, so all i would need to do is produce 3 working machines, 2 clients and 1 server. the rest would be taken care of by triple booting the server and the clients.

the second plan was to build a higher end machine and use VMWare or MS virtual PC to run the whole thing with PC virtualization (which is different than emulation). at first this sounds more expensive than the scavenging idea, but after careful consideration and a little browsing, it may not be as expensive as i first thought.

pandy's dell dimension had some issues, so i salvaged it's chip, drives and cards to and built her a new box for around $250 (new case/powersupply, new board, new ram). the dell is not malfunctioning per se, it just has a wimpy 250W power supply, and with two harddrives, 1 optical, a floppy, and a high end video card, the rails were just too unstable. it crashed twice, each one resulting in data loss. the new box has a 450w PSU, and is only running one harddrive, one optical, a floppy and the video card. the dell box has a fully functional board, ram, optical drive, and floppy. all it needs is a video card, a chip, and a harddrive. the only problem with the dell is that it runs RDRAM, which is hella fast, but is also hella expensive. the dell has 512megs, but all the slots are filled, presumably with 128's. if i want to add more, i have to buy a pair of 256's, to the tune of $180. i can get 2 gigs of ddr400 for that price. i don't know if 512 will allow 3 virtual machines run at the same time. 512 is plenty for a regular workstation, so i could just drop a celeron chip in for around $70 and a $50 video card for the children to use.

in time i decided to go forward with some old p2 machines as the clients and an old p3 as the server. while setting up the P3, something shorted on the motherboard and try as i might, i couldn't get that freaking thing to post. since this is old gear and not under warranty, and there are no spares, i am left with searching for another box. i was going to run it on the old NTguy (an old k6 400) which served web pages for a while, but active directory is another story. that will run a machine into the ground quicker than anything. so i decided to format my linux box and run it as the server. so the server is now an old dell optiplex gx150, just like the new(er) incarnation of NTGuy. i have a 60 gig drive with a messed up boot sector that i was going to try to use as a data drive, while booting off of a 20 gig drive, but the slimline dell case only has room for one drive. i decided to give up the 80gig drive that i was going to use in my main computer and use it in the triad server.

then there are the connectivity frustrations:

part of the project is to set up a nat/firewall on each platform. in order to see if your nat is working, you need internet access. since the whole setup is in a corner of the basement and not sitting in the dining room with all the other pc's (AKA the datacenter), that means wireless access. i did some thinging, and decided that the cheapest solution was to put a wireless nic in a machine running some form of windows and to then bridge connections, or use internet connection sharing.

the first candidate was an old p2 machine that i had scraped together, with 256 megs of ram, running winXP. that proved too difficult. i was met with a variety of problems, on eof them was an obscure network promiscuity issue the other was a nic that didn't seem to stay active all the time. in the end i scrapped that machine and asked my old workhorse, NTGuy to take on the task of bridging in addition to his web serving duties.

once a suitable box was appropriated, then came the issue of getting a wireless card to work on a server. apparantly i am either the first dude in the world crazy enough to try this, or i am the first dude in the world dumb enough to not get it working. after much installing, uninstalling, enabling and disabling, and of course, a tremendous amount of profanity, i elected to format NTGuy and start again with 2000 server. i had had a host of issues getting it going in the p2 box, so i was not confident that it was going to fly on this box either. the only thing that kept me going thru the whole ordeal was knowing that for a brief and shining instant, i was able not only to connect wirelessly to the internet, but to pass traffic thru that connection.

it took a reformat of NTGuy, and a download of the latest drivers from the linksys website to get NTGuy on my home wireless network reliably.

i didn't want to install a wireless card in the tirad server because i wanted to run a vairiety of operating systems, and i didn't want to fight with wireless network support for a non-windows (i.e. non-wireless) platform. so before i could set up NAT/routing on the server, i had to set up routing on NTguy.

i have said thousands of times that the thing i like least about windows is the fact that it's not well documented. sure there is built in help, and the occsaional tutorial online, but in genreal if you want to read about something in windows you will need to buy a book. not just any book, BTW, you need to buy an MCSE guide book of some variety. the books are like $100 each and are not written to teach you anything, other than to answer MCSE exam questions. a typical MCSE question goes like this:
jan in accounting needs access to her mail while she travels. jan has a laptop computer and red sportscar. she also has a dog named buster who urinates in her shoes when she leaves town.

jan's computer is has been joined to the company's active directory. the active directory server is housed in the company's server room, which is an airconditioned closet. the company chose to not build a proper serveroom because they are all cheap bastards. the closet is also home to the company's echange server. when jan is traveling, how will she gain access to her email?


clearly, you cannot gain any useful information from such a book, and so you must venture out on the web where information on the subject is even harder to find. in the end, your best bet is to read the helpfiles that ship with windows, or to possibly access technet. my answer came while searching help. the answer was to set up a static route to the defualt gateway of the "internet" interface. i was able to configure NAT, which has it's own ghetto DHCP setup and makes absolutely no mention of firewalls and the like.

one helpful hint for setting this shit up is this: once you get your NICs working, rename them to something useful. if one nic plugs into the internet, call it "internet" or "public" or "johnny". if the other nic is your internal network interface, call it "internal" or "private" or "sid". in my case i went with "wireless" and "crossover". another suggestion is to focus on the "internet" connection and disable the "internal" connection until everything is working smoothly and you are connected to the internet.

also, don't bother with setting up DNS or DHCP until you are forced to. if all you are doing is setting up nat to share an internet connection, the wizard has to set it up your DHCP pool using it's own DHCP service, or maybe it's the real MS DHCP service, the only difference i know to exist between the two setups is that the wizard generated one works and the one set up by hand does not.

then there are the operating system frustrations:

i was originally going to use winXP for the bridge machine, and win2003 for the active driectory server. i have an XP disc with SP2 folded into it, so i was going to fold SP1 into the 2003 distro and set it up as well. well, the keys that i have don't work with sp1. i know how to sleaze win2k into installing without a CDkey, but my kung fu is not strong enough yet to h4X0rize 2003. for now, i have admitted defeat and will use win2000 server.

one thing that drives me bonkers about server is that it assumes you installed the os from a CD rom mapped to D:\. i *always* copy the I386 directory to the root of C: and start the install from C:\i386. in professional (nt workstation, 2000 pro and xp pro) the installer would remember that and always pull components from that location. not server. you have to go into the registry and change that shit by hand. fortunately it's only in one place. this is the shit that MS never mentions in it's "linux sucks" propaganda: editing the registry and DLL hell.

the single biggest source of frustration in all of this is the fact that it's windows, and this shit's supposed to be easy. after all, there is a graphical user interface, and wizards, and other bullshit that are supposed to help.

i get that not everyone gets a woody from editing text based config files, and that's cool. i also get that sometimes, the OS has to listen to the human and do what the human tells it. since windows compnents can sometimes freak out, they need to be reset oe re-installed. there is no way, that i know of, to remove tcp/ip and re-install it. you can *uninstall* it, but that won't actually replace the bits that are on disk, or in memory. you get one shot to get your stack on, and if something happens to it, you need to pull the NIC drivers and *hope* that clobbers the TCP/IP stack. as i have learned, that doesn't always work. fortunately formatting the harddrive always works.

another thing i hate about server is when one of it's services fail. one service failed because some other service failed, and that service failed because some other service failed, and it all stems from the fact that some network service (like the browser helper server function or some shit that no one has ever heard of) has failed so you tweak and twiddle and fondle and fumble until finally you just scream "WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!?!?!"

i am used to this in linux. i am also used to checking an FAQ or a forum, finding a solution that works, and fixing the damn problem. what i am unaccustomed to is having a problem and not being able to locate so much as a discussion of the problem that is available for free. sure you can buy books or videos, or (horror of horrors) call microsoft, or pay to attend one of those "shake and bake MCSE" camps, but if you just want to make it go, in your basement, it just ain't gonna happen.

for those of you who say "you must have done something wrong"

that is entirely possible. in fact, it's highly probable. the problem is that there is no community built around NT to post a config file (or in the windoze world, a series of screenshots) to just to ask "i have been over this a hundred times, what am i missing?". case in point, i got nat setup on NTGuy, and set the same thing up on ADGuy for his clients to use, and NTGuy worked great, but ADGuy didn't. i compared the two item for item, and the onlt discrepancy between the two was that one of the adapters on ADGuy was in a "non-querying" mode instead of "querying" like on NTGuy. i disabled the adapter and then re-enabled it and that put it in the right mode, and everything started to work. such is life with windows, rebooting shit to fix crazy problems. if i didn't have a working NAT to compare with, i don't think i could have gotten it all working.

at work, i don't have these problems because i usually have a co-worker or two to act as a second set of eyes, or a working implementation that i can compare things to. sometimes that's all you need.

at this point, i would assert that building a new network, from new and licensed components is *far* easier than the rooute i chose to take.

the triad network explained
the triad network is three separate networks that happen to run on the same three machines, thanks to the magic of dual booting. they are: 1)windows 2000 clients in an active directory environment, 2)windows 2000 clients with a samba server running in PDC mode, running entirely open source software (other than windows, of course), and 3)linux clients connecting to a linux NIS/NFS setup. i would also like a linux terminal server added to the mix, but i am not sure if the server will be able to handle the load. a printer would be nice too, but i'm not going to push my luck.

the server in all 3 scenarios should serve file shares, distributed user profiles, provide DHCP and serve as a gateway to the internet. the clients will be minimally configured, and lean on the network for almost everything.

the server will boot three different OS's: windows 2000 server, openBSD, and slackware. i am toying with the idea of a 4th setup, a linux terminal server, where the clients use etherboot floppies.

the windows 2000 server will be named ADGuy, run active directory, and provide internet access via NAT. it will also run some sort of anti-virus package, and hopefully email as well. users will have roaming profiles, and the client machines will run their applications from the server. the goal is to get systems running windows 2000 professional and office 2000 professional on 5 gigs of drivespace.

the openBSD server will be named sambaguy, run samba in PDC mode, and provide internet access via PF and NAT. it will run clamAV and hopefully email. the clients will run windows 2000 professional, clamwin antivirus and open office. i am not sure how well open office does network installs, so i am allowing more disk space for the clients, a whole 6 gigs. the hope is that i can duplicate the functionality of the other windows clients using open source software for windows.

the slackware server will be called NISguy, and serve slackware clients with NFS shares for /usr /opt and /home, and provide distributed client authentication with NIS. the hope is that i can get similar client functionality to the other two setups, in just 2 gigs of disk space.

posted by chris 9:46 PM


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

 
downloading sheet music is illegal too?

jesus christ! so appearantly, doing anything with music on the internet (talking about it, writing about it, writing about the fact thaat you talked about it) is illegal and will get you busted.

here are some other activities that violate musical copyright:
talking about music in person
playing music in front of your friends
playing music in your car that is loud enough for someone else to hear it
listening to the music that they play at the end of a movie, during the credits
listening to someone's ringtone on their phone
looking at a shirt or poster that depicts a musical act
whistling or humming a tune (to include snapping your fingers)
listening to a tune on a jukebox that you didn't purchase yourself

in order to protect yourself, you should buy a copy of absolutely everything and pay the full retail price, just to be safe. better pick up a few extra copies to be even safer.

posted by chris 10:40 AM


Thursday, December 08, 2005

 
discovering bob marley... again

i am a big fan of bob marley, and i have been for years. i was really into punk as a teenager, and later i got into ska, so reggae was like a natural progression. "modern" ska (like from the 80's and 90's) is like a mix of reggae and punk, which i gathered was big in london. modern acts like sublime, no doubt's first CD, and of course the mighty mighty bosstones got me hooked on the ska sound. later on i discovered older stuff, like from the clash, madness, and desmond dekker and i realized that ska is as old, if not older than punk itself.

the first bob marley song i ever heard was "jammin". i fell in love with it instantly, and it's still one of my favorites. it was on a casette tape of music an army buddy of mine had taped off of an alternative radio station in california. that was like 12 years ago, when i was stationed at ft. riley. the song was old, even then. i had the tape playing in my car, and my boss at the time, who was from panama, and was married to a jamaican woman, asked me (presumably because i was white) "what do you know about bob marley?"

last year sometime, i picked up some tracks from guys like prince buster. this was ska from the early to mid 60's. i really dug the old ska sound, it was familiar, like oldies from the 50's, only it didn't suck. it turns out that ska is more than just a mix of reggae and rockabilly. it was it's own sound. all the talk in the songs about tough guys, hooligans, and rudeboys, this was like gangster rap from the 60's.

bob marley was an old staple in my music collection. a co worker of mine, hearing that i was a huge fan, let me borrow a box set called songs of freedom, which had all of the marley favorites from legend, plus live stuff and a few tracks i'd heard of, but had never listened to.

but the real find in this set was his early stuff. marley's tracks witht he wailers in the early 60's, stuff that probably never made it out of trenchtown or kingston. there was a track called "simmer down" which i thought was an original by the specials, is an orignal rude by anthem by none other than the man himself, bob marley. also on the set is the orignal version of "one love" which is pure concentrated oldskool ska. another anthology that roger lent me was called "one love at studio one" which is a bunch of stuff from arund the "simmerdown" days. turns out that simmer down was a massive hit in the dancehalls and was the wailers first "single".

"simmer down" is like 45 years old or something. it's older than the music my parents listen to.

posted by chris 4:32 PM


Friday, December 02, 2005

 
this is why i don't read american newspapers

US Vietnam intelligence 'flawed'.

here is the CNN version:
Doubts cast on Vietnam War buildup

the BBC article mentions how the government "fought" the declassification because of the comparison to iraq, while the CNN version just says that the parallels between the two wars "make it all the more worthwhile to re-examine the events of August 1964 in light of new evidence".

in other news, the White House calls war critics 'irresponsible' and Ten US marines were killed in Falluja

posted by chris 1:02 PM


Monday, November 28, 2005

 
using old game consoles to fill the digital divide

bill thompson's article about using old game consoles to help the developing world is a big squishy piece of impossible nonsense. i normally dig bill's stuff. he's pretty much on the fence about a whole bunch of things in the digital world even if i don't always agree.

this particular piece is like some kind of modest proposal. yes game consoles are neutered computers, yes there is a chance that they could probably see use in some sort of recycle program, but there is no way in hell that console makers are going to let you modify your hardware (even if you do own it).

sony and MS have so much money tied up in developing their consoles, and the marketing campaigns to sell their consoles, and the smear campaigns to discredit other people's consoles, and blood money to seduce developers in to making games for their consoles, that the idea of you taking that thing, which you paid the retail price for, and giving it away to someone in a developing nation (possibly one where there was no official launch for the platform, and no licensing agreements purchased) is just sick.

you should just be good little moneysheep, pay full price for the console, the games, and all of the accessories, tell all of your friends how great it is and pressure them into buying as well, then throw it in the trash when the new version comes out and pay the full retail price for it too, thereby completeing the circle of life.

speaking of which, the new 360 is out, and available for the price of a new dell PC, or a totatally hot gaming box built from newegg parts.

posted by chris 3:17 PM


Monday, November 07, 2005

 
i hate CD burning software

nero and easy CD creator are the banes of my existence. i don't trust any hardware that requires special software for it to work, printers and scanners come to mind, but CD burners are the worst.

scanners are OK because they never work. they are like this big lie perpetrated by the computing industry, kind of like infrared data transfer. sure, there are a handful of people who performed the dark ritual necessary to get a scanner working brand new and out of the box, but for the most part, scanners don't work. printers work most fo the time, as long as all you want to do is print from office. anything else requires you to roll a saving throw against legacy bullshit. cd burners tho are the worst because they work half of the time, and the other half, they just freak out.

like 8 years ago, when CD burning was a skill, i made disks all the time. bootable ones, music ones, and even copies of actual disks (iso images) you name it. it wasn't until the bruner become mainstream that CD burning software became so twitchy. easy CD creator has urinated on the registry of a computer in my posession not less than twice. nero burning rom does some of the dumbest things, like burn the DVD even though i checked the box that says "test the DVD without writing".

after it fried my last DVD it popped up a little dialog box that said "i'm nero smart start, BITCH!" and it spit my disk across the room.

usually, subsequent releases of software improve it's quality. normally, little errors (or bugs) are discovered in a product and fixed in a later release. there are people who test for that kind of thing and then try to fix it. support for new hardware or features gets added as well, and over all the package improves with constant development. even internet exploder gets better with new releases. cd burning software seems to fail not only in the improvement front, but it is actually going in reverse.

they should list the side effects of software like they do in prescription drug coomercials. "in clinical trials, users of nero smart start experienced elevated frustration, increased levels of profanity, and a much higher occurrence of CD shaped coasters. if you experience the inability to burn CD's, please see your doctor at once."

instability would be one thing, but the problem is compounded by the fact that the efforts made to make the software easier to use have actually made it harder to use. case in point, since the dawn of time, if you downloaded and ISO image, you could right click on said image and select "record to CD" or something similar. now, you have to tell nero smart start to open the file for burning.

i thought this was a problem on my primary workstation at work, since it has virtual PC on it and has the file associated with something in there, but i burned a CD from an ISO while rebuilding my wife's computer using my roommate's PC, and ran into the same problem.

i have found a couple of appls to help with my CD burning woes, one of which is a free app called CD burner XP and ISO recorder. they are decent at handling ISO operations, though i have yet to produce an winXPsp2 ISO that works with virtual PC.

posted by chris 1:53 PM

 
sony pulls out all the stops on DRM

the guys at sys internals are hardcore windows guys. they wrote the first DOS NTFS driver and a bunch of other cool stuff, and one of their guys bought a sony CD and went to play it on a computer, a mistake i don't think i have ever made.

here are a couple of articles about what he found.

now, i this is an old rant of mine, so i will spare everyone the digital rehtoric and cut to the meat of the issue, which is that legitmate users are hurt by the copy protection in the product. the dudes that want to get around the stuff will get around it, one way or another, that's a given. the person suffering here is not the warezd00d, it's the legitimate, paying customer. talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

see, any software tester will tell you that since not all machines are the same (different versions of hardware/software/user habits/whatever) you can never predict every user case that there is, and therefore never have anything work 100% flawlessly, especially new products that haven't had much time out in the wild. that's one of the many reasons why strict enforcement of DRM will never work.

UPDATE
sony is issuing a recall of the the protected CDs w00t.

posted by chris 1:37 PM


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

 
fun with MS virtual PC

it hurts my heart to say this, being the big anti microsoft guy that i am, but virtual PC is really freakin' kewl.

i have been using it at work and it's just so bloody convenient. i am used to having a collection of PCs at my disposal as an IT guy. i would normally have one windows box on the NT domain for routine office stuff (email, browsing, IM, office, on the occasional line of code), a linux for tinkering and other things that i don't want the network police to see ;-) and one low end machine for testing harddrives and stuff.

one of the things i find myself hacking a lot are boot disks. either CD roms for installs or diagnostics, or floppies for setting up new machines. i will admit that my kung fu is strongest mit das floppien, and that the learning curve for making live CD's is kind of involved, but i am getting there.

in the past, when hacking and testing bootdisks, it would require one or more machines, one to boot off of, and one to edit, or if you have only one box, editing the disk using a dos editor like edit.com and rebooting all the time.

with virtual PC, you can set up mulitple "computers" in software emulation, so there is no need to mess up your linux box or your office box or even take them offline. infact, my slackware box is a virtual PC as well.

my current hack is trying to slipstream SP2 into a windows setup disk made from a non bootable MS select CD. slipstreaming is where you integrate a service pack into the bits off of an install CD and then burn the updated bits back to disk.

slipstream process is simple enough, bootdisk.com has links to all the sites that discuss it, if not, check out bart's site for all kinds of other stuff. bart's stuff is neat cuz you work with ISO's not actual disks, so no waiting for burns and whatnot.

ISO's and floppydisk images are great ways to keep track of important disks that seem to disappear. i the past i have built floppies and CD's that took more configuring and testing than whole computer systems, so being able to take snaps of them to store on a network share is handy as hell.

the cool thing about virtual PC is that you can mount the ISO's and floppy images just like they were acutal physical media. in the case of floppies, changes you make to the disk are saved back to the snapshot, so there is not need to take a new snap of the finished disk, just drop it on your share when you are done.

i had originally planned to build a little test network of machines for what i called the triad (triple boot test network) where a server and two clients all triple booted to form 3 different networks:

network 1: windows server w/active directory (AD) and windows clients (win2k or win2003/xp)
network 2: BSD server and samba in PDC mode and windows clients.
network 3: linux server and NIS with linux clients, plus thin clients booted off floppy

by the time i get all the gear to get 3 low end PCs up and running, the space for 3 workstations, and the networking gear, i may as well build a decently powered box with a bunch of ram and run virtual machines instead.

so the triad net has been scrapped in favor of "the sandbox".

the sandbox will probably be a slackware or other linux box with VMware for linux. funds will dictate the final hardware, tho i am thinking a low end athlon or sempron64 and 2 gigs of ram. i have to look into VMware some more before i come to a final spec, and it will be a while since i just ordered all the gear for my file server project and i will be paying that off for the rest of my natural life.

the things i don't like about virtual PC are:

1) it grabs the mouse. you have to hit the right alt key to get the mouse pointer back from the virtual PC.

2) it has trouble letting go of physical devices. so you are really better off using img's and iso's and not physical hardware.

3) virtual disk access can be sloooow. formatting disks and operations that require the copying of loads of files (like OS and software installs) can take a really long time.

posted by chris 11:39 AM

 
why are spammers obsessed with viagra?

i must get like 30 spams a day in my various accounts hawking viagra. is there really that much market for this stuff? are there that many malfunctioning winkies in the world that i need to find out where to buy the stuff 30 times a day?

posted by chris 9:21 AM


Thursday, October 20, 2005

 
local telcos fight municipal networks

we spent all this loot to build expensive networks, and now cities want to give internet access away for free :-(, not on my watch you commie bastards!

i am always uneasy when large corporations complain about profits that they have not yet made or lost. i am even more uneasy when companies appeal to legislators for help instead of being more competitive.

all forms of communication will move to computers and the internet at some point, from telephones to television. it's only a matter of time. telecommunications firms will have to remain competitive, offering more services for less money, or be pushed out of the market by internet based services and devices.

this is an old rant of mine, based on the concept of the stupid network. the basics are this: until the late 90's, networks like those of telephone companies were built out of expensive gear and the labor intensive process of running cable to physically connect homes and businesses. new features meant new equipment, and more sophistication to be built into the network.

this model worked until the world wide web became available to everyone. now things like physical distance do not affect the cost of communication, and new features can be added without upgrading the network infrastructure. for example, email was a great way to communicate, and the advent of instant messaging simply required a client and a server, not special switching equipment.

the point here is that cable and telephone companies are still clinging to the old 60's and 80's concept of large expensive networks where you pay a premium for access, instead of realizing that eventaully, the price will drop to almost nothing, just like telephone service has.

so the phone companies are putting out ads about how VOIP isn't all it's cracked up to be, and the the cable companies are talking about how greedy the phone companies are. it appears that both of them are concerned over free or low cost municipal WiFi cutting into their action.

right now intel is testing a technology called wimax that is essentially wifi on steroids to provide access to rural areas who cannot get high speed access, what's not to stop other companies from providing cheaper service without the outlay for buried wires?

in the tlecom business you can never sit back and say "whew! now that we have all this stuff in place we can just sit back and watch the money pile up!"

posted by chris 9:12 AM


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

 
when lawbots attack

the PAboyz had a little run in with jack thompson, evil lawdroid esq.

in case you missed it here, JT is a dude that sues video game companies when lunatics commit violent crimes. website reads like he's some sort of cyberpunk ambulance chaser:

"have you or someone you love been killed by a video game? call the law offices of jack thompson, evil lawdroid esquire... remember, we don't get paid unless you get paid."

so anyway, his latest stunt, is a "modest proposal" in the spirit of johnathan swift. he proposes that a video game be made where a father seeks revenge on the video game industry for the death of his son or something. he promised to donate $10k to the charity the boss's choice if the company lets it be made. it's full of stuff like killing presidents of companies, the dudes that work at best buy, shit like that. personally i would pay twice for a game where you could beat radioshack guys with a bat, or media play guys when they hawk gaming magazines or strategy guides. that would be a lot of fun.

but i digress. the fun starts when the PAboyz talk to JT about the fact that thier child's play charity has raised like 50 times the amount that JT is pledging.

read the story on the PA site, it's funny stuff.

posted by chris 11:28 AM


Monday, October 10, 2005

 
my new life

this has been a hectic month, i started a new gig with the university of cincinnati, and i got married.

my life does that from time to time... just spontaneusly resets. a few years ago i was a low level IT grunt in ohio, doing the wife and kids thing in the suburbs, when i landed a gig in seattle at a dot com, thereby transforming me into a higly paid manager at a cutting-edge firm living life in the fastlane of west coast software companies.

a couple of years later, the dot com closed, i lost my job, my wife left me, and i followed the children back to ohio where i started over as a divorced and disillusioned IT grunt living in my parent's basement.

so now i am back to doing the wife and kids thing, this time in northern kentucky. funny how things work out.

posted by chris 11:59 AM


Friday, September 23, 2005

 
why nintendo people are weird

this is the greatest thing ever written about video games.

i am now enlightened to the tao of nintendo. it is not that their kung fu is weak, but that that the strength of their kung fu cannot be seen without first reaching enlightenment.

posted by chris 11:53 AM


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

 
a bad summer for the movie industry

ticket sales are down, probably due to the fact that there hasn't been a movie worth watching in theaters in quite a while. i was mildly interested in charlie and the chocolate factory, but i never got around to seeing it, the same with four brothers.

the new harry potter film will be a must see for me and my family, and hopefully the new wallace and grommit film will make it's way to us. the lion the witch and the wardrobe is another one i am eager to see. i hate living in the midwest because lots of smaller films won't make it to us, case in point, ong bak muay thai warrior. i still haven't seen this movie thanks to it's limited release and the failure of video store chains to stock anything but tom hanks films.

one thing that always turns me off of a film is watching adverts for it too many times. once i have seen a dozen commercilas for a film i actively hate it and will not see it.

one film that i went to see in the theater that i really liked was "the lords of dogtown". i really enjoyed it even though i had only seen a little about it on IMDB.

posted by chris 9:14 AM


Monday, September 19, 2005

 
nintendo people are weird

this is a funy VGCats comic about the next generation of consoles.

console game platforms are like religions, people are raised on them from childhood. i was an atari kid (who in the 80's wasn't?) then a sega kid, and then finally a playstation kid.

i have never owned a nintendo, tho i had friends who were nintendo kids and played a little here and there. my roomate, wels, is a nintendo kid, and when he moved in, his cat and his gamecube moved in with him. at first i stalked around it, trying to intimidate it, asserting myself as dominant the way that wolves do. in time the children that occasionally visit the kingdom swayed me. we all regularly play mario party 5. i have purchased a 4th game cube controller so that the entire family can play.

i now have a new respect for nintendo. they truly understand kids games, especially the multiplayer vairiety, even if the characters in them are pretty strange.

one thing i was able to gather is that nintendo is first and foremost a hardware company. they make strange devices, especially the portables, and sometimes recycle their older games on that new, portable platform. it's a brilliant moneymaking scheme, especially if you have a leigon of zealots that will buy pretty much any weird thing you put out, regardless of the price or the fact that it looks like it was stolen from another planet, or even that they had purchased the game once, and some times even twice before.

that is what i think is so weird, not the company, but the consumer base that they appeal to. the people who buy nintendo's stuff are freakin' weird. my fiance was raised nintendo, as were a number of people i know, and when a new nintendo thing comes out, they are all over it, even when the new thing sucks. my daughter has a GBA that i swear you need a flashlight to play cuz the screen is so freakin dark. every time nintendo puts out another portable (and they have put out a LOT of them) they fix one problem and create a new one, then people rush out to buy the newly flawed creation at the full retail price.

the whole thing is pretty absurd, really.

while i am at heart mostly a console gamer, i am often reluctant to purchase new consoles when they first come out. i didn't get a PS2 until it had been out almost 3 years (it was a christmas present), and i purchased my xbox as an after thought, only when i was certain that i could get it modded and play newly released games on it for nothing. i wanted a thing that i could play videos and stuff on, and a modded xbox is a nice little package for that. with the added benefit of playing xbox games. i have only purchased one actual game for the xbox, which is baldur's gate dark alliance, purchased from a used game store to play with the significant other.

if i get a new console, it will be after a year or two, when a can't miss must have game hits the streets and i am overcome by lust for it. i am hoping that the mod community will be able to do kewl things with the 360, once the price dips below $200.

that is probably how the purchase will go down: someone in the house will buy/receive for christmas a nintendo, while i buy a ps3, then once my contacts in the NEEN have established reliable supply lines and sufficient infrastructure to begin modz on the 360, and the machine hits the appropriate price point, i will acquire one of those as well, thereby completing the migration fo the household to next geration platforms.

yes, life in a 3 console house is expensive... but there is something to be said for being able to walk into a game store, with your eyes closed, grab a game at random, and be confident that it will play back at the crib. that's how we roll.

posted by chris 8:46 AM


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

 
incredible hulk: ultimate destruction

i picked this one up for the xbox a couple of weeks ago and it's pretty viscerally satisfying. you get to smash stuff and throw things, and generally cause havoc.

it's pretty much GTA without cars mixed with RGP style upgrades. you smash people and things and get "smash points" then use the smash points to buy new moves and powers that help you smash more stuff.

kind of pointless, actually.

anyway, you can do missions that help the story along, or take up challenges, or do what i do, and just go somewhere, tear a bunch of shit up, and wait for the feds to come kill you. then kill all the feds. good times.

posted by chris 10:29 AM


Friday, September 09, 2005

 
why this katrina thing upsets me

i used to be in the ohio army national guard. i went to nicarragua to help with the relief efforts after hurricane mitch. i have seen the materials and the resources that the national guard has (at least in ohio) and it pales in comparison to the both the quality and the quantity of resources (equipment, training, personnel) that the regualr army has. what little of the national guard that is not overseas is still woefully underequipped to handle large-scale relief efforts.

what upsets me about this whole thing is that there are hundreds of billions to be spent readily on wars overseas while little is available for rapidly deployable humanitarian relief. i hate that there are people standing around ready to respond at a moment's notice to treats overseas. i have seen fleets of trucks, tanks, helicopters just sitting on fields in case they *might* need to see use. there are huge hospitals in places like lanstuhl germany, airports in places like rammstein airbase in germany (lanstuhl and rammstein are right next to eachother) that are in place to support wars and police actions in europe. why isn't there a similar force with similar resources devoted to humanitarian aid?

for a while there the US military was essentially the striking arm of the UN. why isn't there a large humanitarian aid organization with even half that funding?

i just saw on charitynavigator.org that there are 1 million volunteers and 35 thousand employees of the red cross. i'll bet there are 35 thousand in one division (of the ten) in the U.S. Army, which is just one branch of the four armed services protecting america.

why isn't there a humanitarian response force with even half of the resources that the the U.S. military has? or even half of what the army has? or even twice what the red cross has? if you ask me, that is the whole problem. the national guard couldn't respond well seeing as how they're all in iraq, or in other overseas locations backfilling the regular army froces who are in iraq. if we had a strictly humanitarian force, not one that could be wrapped up in protracted military engagements, perhaps we could have made a better response.

the the special operations command can put people anywhere in the world in next to no time. why isn't there a domestic version to help here at home?

posted by chris 9:11 AM


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

 
crackin fo dollas

it's a sad day in the world of skript kiddies.

it's pretty lame that people pay for crackers mess with your IE settings.

this is why i use mozilla.

in other news

my friend joe sent me this, it was written almost a year ago. it's kinda creepy.

posted by chris 10:35 AM


Saturday, August 20, 2005

 
the japanese IQ test



i have wasted too much time on this thing but i can do it while others cannot so i feel smart :-)

i have done it several times, trying to figure out the optimal way to move everyonewithout making repetitive moves, and i always get stuck somewhere in the middle, not sure how to move everyone.

posted by chris 9:30 PM


Friday, July 29, 2005

 
can we chill out over this whole hot coffee thing?

for the love of god, is anyone surprised that rockstar got in trouble over GTA? i am surprised that parents' groups aren't protesting in front of the company's offices like they do at abortion clinics. i have read about 60 web comics all saying the same thing. enough already, it's stupid, we get the picture. this is the same stuff that always happens with games, or music, or movies.

it comes as no surprise to me, the US has had this cultural fascination with violence and this aversion to sex. if you don't believe me, go to europe sometime and see how they do things there. you can see topless women on billboards and network TV in france and germany. those countries haven't been struck down from above or fallen into the sea, so i am pretty sure that boobs are safe for people to see every once in a while.

posted by chris 11:25 AM


Thursday, July 14, 2005

 
today's OFN that i just found out about

if i've said it once i've said it a thousand times, the japanese are freakin' weird. the 404 error page for hobbiton.org features a picture of a rabbit with a pancake on it's head. my friend roy pointed out to me that the rabbit depicted is named oolong and that there are all sorts of things with this bunny holding stuff on his head.

being the curious creature i am, i did a google search, and found all these pictures of this dudes rabbit. there are thousands of them, and only a few of them actually feature him holding stuff on his head, but still, it's pretty weird.

posted by chris 9:58 PM


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

 
top ten stupid things i have heard people say to the helpdesk

10) "let me write this down so i don't make the wrong mistake"
9) "please hurry, the vacuum is coming"
8) "the exclamation point... is that the 'riddler mark'?"
7) "how do you tell adobe acrobat reader to write a PDF?"
6) "everytime i unplug this cisco thing, we lose our internet"
5) "i am a hardware tech, i don't know how to fix windows"
4) "i can't find the 'start' button"
3) "i keep typing my password into the search thing, but it won't let me in"
2) "i want to play 'party poker dot com' but the internet won't let me"
1) "can you turn the firewall off so i can download netzero?"

posted by chris 1:53 PM


Wednesday, June 29, 2005

 
why people steal stuff

check out this essay on why this dude steals music.

the truth is that music, and movies, and whatever, are like drugs. there is an inflexible demand for them. we will always want them, new ones, old ones, you name it. we want the good stuff. we want to see and hear what we like. we would pay a fair price for things that we like, and we want our money back when we don't like it.

a good half of the time and possibly more, movies, TVshows, and music, are crap. i don't like having to wait for TV show to be on. i don't like having to dig for music that is no longer available, or pay for an over priced boxed set. i don't like having to wait for a DVD to hit the $10 bin so i don't feel bad about buying it. i want to enjoy the product, but i don't want to be manipulated.

movies in the theater are too expensive and often suck. DVD's take too long to come out and cost too much once they do come out. i hate having to listen to the radio or watch MTV for new music that categorically sucks. movie rentals are cheap and disposable. i like them. cable TV is better price wise, but subject to the network's schedule, not mine. the radio has a nice price, but the selection sucks since it's based on the lowest common denominator. TV is the same way.

so here is how i think the media companies should do things:

1) release everyting to all channels at once:
tv shows should be available on DVD as soon as they air.
movies should be released on DVD as soon as they hit the air.
music videos should be available on DVD as soon as they air.
music video DVDs should have digital audio tracks on the disk.
video stores should get the DVDs in advance so they can be available for rent.
cable networks should get the films as soon as they are available.
payperview events should include a discount on the DVD.
seeing the film in the theater should earn you a discount on the DVD

2) release everything without reigon all at once:
new stuff should hit the streets in india the same day it hits downtown L.A.
it should be available on demand to enjoy in my home if i don't want to go out.

3) release everything at a decent price:
cuz it's just too expensive to begin with
if we want to keep it, whe have to pay for it again.
(for the price of two movie tickets, i can purchase the DVD)
(for the price of the concert ticket i could buy 4 CDs)

4)let us get our money back
cuz most of what you release is crap
and the unit price for a CD with only one decent track is insane

of course the demands are outrageous. there is no way to logistically manage all of this. but there could be. if it all became digital there would not be transportation, just transmission. instead of shelves of disks at a store you could just use a duplication machine to produce your disks. there would be no transportation costs for hauling printed disks around the countryside, no backordering things that are out of stock. imagine, no waiting for shipping when you ordered from amazon :-)

posted by chris 12:52 PM


Monday, June 27, 2005

 
ten things i hate to hear callers say

10) i forgot my password
9) i think the internet is down
8) what do you mean right click?
7) i am trying to dial in using cable
6) should i double right click or double left click?
5) i am plugged in to the wireless
4) is that a capital 3?
3) i am trying to get into the system and it won't let me.
2) it says "click ok to continue" what should i do?
1) that is unacceptible.

i forgot my password
i hear this one all the time and it just gets old.

i think the internet is down
the internet was designed to withstand a nuclear holocaust, i doubt seriously that it's down.

what do you mean right click?
there are two buttons on your mouse, one on the right and one on the left. click with the one on the right.

i am trying to dial up using cable
you need a dialtone and a telephone to dial in to anything. broadband internet access does not involve dialing, even if it does require a modem.

should i double right click or double left click?
this one comes up after explaining what a right click is. every mouseclick will ahve to be specifed from this point forward.

i am plugged in to the wireless
sure you are.

is that a capital 3?
slowly i turned, step by step...

i am trying to get into the system and it won't let me.
ok, can you be a little more specific? oh you can't. great.

i need you set up my blackberry.
tricksy blackberrieses, we hates them precious. we hates them.

that is unacceptible.
i love when people say this. there is noting that brings out my sarcasm faster than hearing the Uword.

posted by chris 2:09 PM


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

 
about bsd and linux

before i go into my speel about bsd and linux, i should probably explain where i am with unix in general.

i have been using unix in one for or another in my personal life for years. i have had at least one unix shell account for more than 5 years, my hobbiton account being the source of my personal mail and website. my personal affiliation with unix is extensive, my professional affiliation is somewhat convoluted.

professionally i have only served in a strictly unix capacity once, and that was for a company that designed autoparts. i was part of the team that supported the engineers workstations. other professional duties that involved unix could be categorized as "dirtywork". my assignment of these duties usually involved the utterance of a phrase similar to this: "chris is a linux guy, he could probably figure it out."

this means that while i am logged into a unix machine at least once a day, the opportunities for me to do real hacking don't come up very often. i usually have to dream up something to use unix for, and then set about implementing it.

for actual linux, i have used it a lot in the past, tho my daily shell activities normally involve BSD and not linux. so try to look at my opinion here as not one of a unix expert, but rather one of a very seasoned amateur or an entry level professional. i have seen unices in action, and i have helped to maintain systems built by others. i have seen how it should be done, and i use that as a guide in my personal implementations.

so with that out of the way, here is my stance on unix in general:

unix means infrastructure. it is the backbone that all networks should be built on. it is what powers most of the internet and represents the stability needed for servers and other key pieces of infrastructure.

my take on BSD:

the various BSD's are the free implimentations of oldschool unix. they are versions of the OS that runs the huge infrastructure of large networks that have been modified to run on commodity i386 hardware. the hardware has been scaled down, but the learning curve has not. if you are stepping in to BSD, you are stepping in to oldschool unix. working with BSD is hard to do, but once you have it finished it will continue to serve you until you take it down or it's hardware fails. new features are small, and new releases don't come often, because of the extensive approval and QA processes that new code has to go thru. hardware support is not great, but is always improving. BSD folks don't see much outside BSD. they think up their new features based on what their community wants and deliver them when they are ready.

my take on linux:

linux distributions are like organized chaos. there are thousands of versions built for various purposes and new versions or whole new distrubtions are released each day. the amount of peer review and QA depends on the size of the project. large scale projects made for general use distributions (like slackware, redhat or suse) have loads of QA, while smaller projects may have as little as one dev and rely soley on bugs submitted by users for real testing. most linux distributions are meant to substitute microsoft in some capacity, so their features are meant to catch up to their windows equivalent, including hardware support, rather than being completely unique. i like the free and innovative nature of linux, but i hate the underdocumented nature of it. there are thousands of guides and howto's, but they are perpetually out of date thanks to the fast paced development of the linux kernel and the various distributions.

which one is better, BSD or linux? well that depends on what you want to do and how skilled you are. it is entirely possible to build an openBSD workstation with dual monitors and wirless networking, but you have to be very careful in your selection of hardware and research how to set you stuff up extensively. it would probably be easier and faster to set up a xandros or linspire box for that purpose. if you want a rock solid secure firewall or webserver, you would probably be better served by openbsd. it will take some time and tweaking to get it right, but will be unstoppable from that point on.

the virtues of BSD over linux are the same as the virtues of linux over windows: security and stability in exchange for hardware support and ease of use. there are probably linux guys that can build hardened linux servers, and there are probably bsd dudes that can build fly BSD laptops or workstations or whatever, so it really depends on where you want to start.

case in point, i took trustix secure linux for a spin, and found that it was a breeze to set up compared to openbsd and used a simple software update system to keep things up to date(again, sacrificing security for ease of use). my particular issue is that i don't know the first thing about mysql, so getting it setup is particularly challenging since i don't know where to begin and compounded by OBSD's preoccupation with security. so i decided to try a simpler linux distro that was not so well known (and therefore less likely to be targeted for attacks) has a simple installer (like put a check next to mySQL to install it) and was built with security in mind. trustix seemed like the answer to all my dreams.

so i loaded it up, started all the services, and realized that it didn't install pine (and pico) as part of the default. so i used the software updater to load the package, no dice. then i tried to download the source and build it... no love. so i tried the RPM off the pine website, still not luck. so i made a post to the support forum and as of this update (june 21st) have not seen a single reply. i checked the contrib site with no results and i have decided that if i want to use tustix i will have to learn to use vi.

so after some experimenting, i have come full circle, and decided that for my file server and webserver, i will user slackware and openbsd respectively.

posted by chris 11:59 AM


Saturday, June 18, 2005

 
Theo de Raadt talks about linux

TDR (master and commander of OpenBSD) did an interview with forbes magazine and took the opportunity to talk smack about linux. he raised some real points that many of us should keep in mind.

i dig TDR, he's not afraid to put his thoughts out there, even when i costs him funding. i tip my hat to any software dude who can watch funding go bye-bye and still stay focused on coding.

man this was a crazy week in opensource.

i'll post more on what i think about all this later.

posted by chris 1:21 AM


Thursday, June 16, 2005

 
the devil called... hell just froze over

sun opensourced solaris. you are supposed to be able to download it form the open solaris website.

like all "gifts" from sun, there are several hoops to jump thru to get your hands on it, instead of just downloading an ISO or a tarball and going nuts, but the project ahs only been open for like 2 days so perhaps things will improve in time.

posted by chris 4:52 PM

 
bill thompson... tell it brother!

here is a nice opinion piece on trusted computing, and some just how untrustworthy "trustworthy" computing is.

yes, it would be nice to to be able to harden your machine against malware and viruses, and i can totaly see how corporations will make use of the technology to secure their assets. banning the technology, or telling IT vendors to pull the plug is not the way to go. what is needed is a way for regular consumers to make fair use of the content that they have paid for.

if i buy a movie, and want a copy to play on the road without fear of losing, breaking, or having the original stolen, i don't think that's too much to ask. neither is centralizing it on my home media server so anyone can access it at any time. if i want to snarf shows off the TV to watch at my leisure, like have been able to do with the VCR for years, i don't think that's too much to ask.

if you want people to stop stealing your digital media, make getting digital copies easy, affordable, and fair. don't make me pay a fee everytime i watch a movie, don't make me pay to borrow a flick from a friend, and don't make me replace my collection if i lose my ipod or it breaks. this is the sort of consumer abuse that the media companies would like to inflict upon us, and the kind of thing that we will rebel against.

if you want us to give you loads of money, why not make it worth our while? stop making movies that stink, and recording artists that suck, and tv shows with less entertainment value than the commercials that interrupt them. if you want us to tune in and pay, give us our money's worth.

also bear in mind that it's cheaper to thwart security than it is to build it. the downloads will always be available in one form or another, stop wasting your money trying to stop it.

posted by chris 1:58 PM


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

 
blog censorship in china

this is ironic to say the least, but it raises some interesting issues:

1) if you read the comments at the end of the page, there are a few people complaining about MS obeying chinese law. people are upset over MS obeying the law... oh the ironing. well, to be fair to the complainers, they are complaining that MS has chosen to obey laws that are uncool, instead of obeying cool ones, like the anti-trust kind. we can't have it both ways.

2) if the chinese have to censor words like democracy, freedom, and demonstration and weblogs have to be registered with the state, just what is china afraid of? what are they trying to protect? we all know what they are doing, it's just funny that they are so obvious about it.

3) trying to police information of any kind is a losing proposition. you can't effectively enforce any sort of ban, because there are not nearly as many costs with circumventing as there are with policing. it costs far less to break than it does to secure. that's why militaries don't make any money for the governements that keep them, yet they are a great source of revenue for the industries that support those militaries. you can physically secure a building, or even a country, because they are finite spaces. you cannot electronically secure data and allow that data to interact with humans because humans are an infinite space. any sort of information processing system that interacts with humans (the human mind included) will never be completely controlled or secured thanks to it's interaction with other systems, and of course other humans. the work print for starwars episode 3 was not some brilliant hack by a nefarious cyber criminal, it was stolen by someone, probably with physical access to the media, who was interested in the glory and notoriety that making it available would bring.

4) there is no morality in multinational corporations. they have to protect their profits at all costs, and therefore cannot make moral or political statements unless they are in the interest of profits. going on the record for anyhting might affect profits, and corporations absolutely cannot have that happen. no company on planet earth is interested in making the world a better place (unless of course there is money in it) or righting wrongs (except when there is money to be made), or anything other than stacking mad chips. this is the case for any company, not just MS. those companies that we love, like google or redhat, all have boards of directors, and those dudes are only worried about money. there are tons of products available for sale in the US that are made in china. we are all enabling the chinese government in one way or another, and the corporations are powerless to help us or to stop us. it should be noted that technologies that are not proprietary are not subject to "income induced paralysis" and could make moral and political stands... but the freedom-centric nature of such projects will almost always preclude such activities. that's also pretty ironic.

the bottom line here is that the chinese government are the bad guys here, not ms this time. i am sure that if MS could get away with banning words like winblowz, linux, and wintendo they would.

posted by chris 12:06 PM


Monday, June 06, 2005

 
i will never understand artists

i am a big fan of megatokyo. part of my fascination is the story, part of it is the goofy characters, part of it is glimpse into japan thru the eyes of an american, and part of it is it's dysfunctional artist, piro.

check out piro's rant here about his comic posted a day or two before. he thought that a few people were too harsh on him for a comic of his that featured a lot of japanese. people on the internet are harsh, as they often are on the phone, they have a reasonable amount of anonymity and little danger of getting their lights punched out.

i experienced this phenomenon as a deskside tech. i would get pissy emails or voice mails about how i "needed to get my ass out here and fix" whatever. then i would show up and seeing as how i am a former kickboxer tipping that scales at close to 300 lbs, they often would change their tunes. that's my problem with most online communities, people act stupid to me there when i know they wouldn't in real life. there is a fine line between using your right to free speech and abusing your right to not be punched in the mouth.

i guess i am just seriously different from other people, but there is a reason that i don't promote this site, or offer feedback on it, or offer a means of contacting me (my email address is here in a couple of places, but you'd have to dig for it) it's that i don't care what poeple think about my writing, or my (lack of) ability to design a website. creating something is a very personal matter and other people's feedback just isn't that important. it's not like this site is a secret or anything, i just like to vent here. that's it's purpose. piro does megatokyo for a living, so i guess people's feedback is important businesswise, but jeez, is people's negative opinion of your stuff really all that big a deal?

i suppose i could fire off one of my famous "lone nut" emails, where i go into some tirade and it gets deleted without so much as a "wow, that guy has issues", but it's not like it will do any good, other than improve my reputation as a lone nut.

posted by chris 11:10 AM


Friday, June 03, 2005

 
damn you blogger and your cameraphone thingy!

i have been holding out on getting a snazzy phone because i am so hard on them. phones live in my pocket. it's a rough life in there, and a couple of cellies have died from the beating that they take in there.

nokia has a baseline phone, like the 3360, the 3595, or whatever the current model "brick" is. i like these phones because they have no moving parts, hinges, and you can replace the entire carapce if necessary. it becomes necessary for me about once a year.

i often carry two phones, one for work and my own personal cell. having two phones in a pocket doubles the abuse that both phones take. i don't clip them to belts for a couple of reasons. 1) i don't ever wear a belt. 2) i am not down with the whole "batman factor" that phones and pagers and multi-use plier things bestow up on a belt.

when i was in the military i carried all kinds of stuff. when i was in the real army i carried a gerber (a combination plier thingy) and two knives, one in each pocket. when i left active duty for the national guard, i still carried a gerber and the knives, plus my pager (i didn't carry a phone back then) and often a pager for work. i carried two knives, one on my left side for cutting open boxes and cables and whatever and one on my right for use on (against) humans. the one on the left side always looked beaten to hell and really wasn't all that sharp. the one on the right never saw use, other than drawing them both quickly in a menacing fashion.

so i have managed to eliminate the batman effect by eliminating the belt and relegating phones to my pockets, now blogger does this hella easy thing for posting mobile pics and i am overcome with the need to use it.

what would be better than seeing me rant and rave about things in all lower case, complete with typos? poorly snapped photos, that's what! imagine all of this whining backed with pics with my finger in front of the lens.

damn you blogger! damn you!

posted by chris 2:42 PM


Thursday, June 02, 2005

 
i really hate message boards

online forums are a necessary evil for me. i rely on them for information, but the people who populate them pain me.

i have tried a couple of times to participate in largely social forums, and it always ends the same, i get banned or i just leave in frustration.

it has become clear to me that social and gaming forums are not for me. i should stick with more formal settings, like technical forums. even then, shit like this happens. i got an answer from someone that was useful, but not before being subjected to someone's stupidity.

if you read my post (i am chrizzle) you will see that i use the word backup just once, and state twice that i am not sure if i want to use RAID or not. then someone explains to me what me what RAID is, which is not only not relevant, but it corrects a mistake that was never made.

this was a while ago, but it is underscores my hatred for public forums.

i had a similar experience in a more social forum that i will probably never visit again. the lesson i learned with this one is that just because someone you respect thinks a forum is cool, doesn't mean it is. messageboards are all message boards, and they are populated by message board people.

posted by chris 1:53 PM

 
superman is a dick

here is the proof

posted by chris 11:41 AM


Wednesday, June 01, 2005

 
teh move

i've moved back to kentucky and boy did it suck.

in particular, setting up broadband again sucked the most.

i have a broadband router that i have set up a bunch of port forwarding, static IPs, and whatnot. my home network is work of art, here is a diagram:

state of teh network, phase1

so anyway, i had to factory reset the router as part of setting up my broadband connection. i figured i would add web keys to the mix to boost security just a little. well, like all things linksys, the 802.11b ethernet bridge is a great piece of hardware that ships with crappy firmware. i had to update it from a machine that was using static IPs, not my laptop which uses DHCP. anyway, i got that stuff all set up and now i am facing a logistical problem.

i used to have all my puters set up on a folding table in what was supposed to be the "eat in" part of the eat in kitchen. now i have a formal dining room that i am turning into a datacenter. this new room has two entrances and some windows, and my GF has a ginormous desk, leaving me with two separate places to put my puters. this isn't a big deal per se, but it means that i need to buy desks now. most computer desks were designed to accomodate one human with one computer, i happen to have 4 at one desk and 2 at another. so locating two affordable desks to accomodate my vast computing power is becoming problematic.

i also want to add to the mix one broadband phone adapter, and a unix box that's outside the firewall. this will involve a bit more cabling and configuring, not to mention the building of the box.

i would also like to put some boxes in the basement to mess with active directory and some other stuff, like NIS, but i can use old cast off machines for that and it will be a while before i get those. the proposed network would look something like this:

state of teh network, phase2

posted by chris 4:12 PM


Thursday, May 19, 2005

 
microsoft wants you te get the facts

this was a google ad on a slashdot article. i thought it was interesting.

so appearantly, one of the things you need to be worried about it being sheilded from Intellectual Property concerns, and MS can assure you that you are completely shielded if you go with windows.

i guess i should mention that the whole IP thing with linux was probably started by MS in the first place, via SCO.

posted by chris 5:34 PM

 
gaming needs to change

this article is all about how games need to make a cultural shift in order to appeal to new markets. specifically, most games are engineered for men, which pretty much excludes women from them.

i am of two minds about this:

politically correct chris thinks:
yes it does! there need to be more titles that appeal to girls and women. the interfaces for these new games should be easy for the casual gamer, who doesn't want to spend hours learning a game before they can play it. games are a good way to get people in to technology, and getting young women involved is a great idea. as long as there are plenty of violent games for me to play, why not make games geared for women?

chris the elitist nerd thinks:
hell no! too many other things have been all "wussified" so girls can play them. the third edition of dungeons and dragons is "rules lite" or more accurately described as "math lite" so girls can play. i for one am not interested in games where you have to shop for new outfits or decorate your new house. i have real life children and bills and i don't want that crap in my games. i like games with blood and/or boobs and lots of explosions. if girls want to play games where they drink tea and talk about their menstral cycles, then maybe some new company, like ovarysoft can make "uterous friendly" games but i am *not* playing "grand theft heartthrob" or "tony hawk's shopping spree".

one thing is certain, everyone thinks that gaming is the new internet... the new way to make billions. hopefully there will be new approaches taken and new areas explored. nintendo has talked alot about new directions in gaming. they have often done so with new portables, and interesting games like the ones where you play the bongos.

this article is kind of sad, appearantly independant firms are going under with the rise in costs of deveoping more involved games. it's too bad that consoles are so proprietary and that open source doesn't work for those platforms. it would be great if an open sourced development kit for console games could be developed. freely available community run and released games would be great to see.

posted by chris 1:18 PM


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

 
i finally rescued the pilot with the deathwish

yeah, he didn't like it, but i brought that guy home safe and sound in mercenaries. appearantly, he will get into the vehicle if you blare the horn. this of course terminates any disguise you had, and since you are 20 clicks on the wrong side of the DMZ, every north korean in earshot tries to kill you, but hey, that's not really a problem as long as you RUN LIKE HELL.

posted by chris 12:48 PM

 
why i am not camping out for starwars

i have always been a fan of the starwars films, tho i have not been that in to this third installation. i really liked episode 1, and i saw it at a midnight showing. i liked episode 2, tho i thought there were too many jokes about things in the future. the premise of the first film, that the good guys would be duped into putting the badguys in to power, was great. the sets and things for all the movies are great, so i am sure i will have a good time with this third film as well.

this third installment just seems too forced... like the frenzy that surrounds it is manufactured this time. i guess that was to be expected... no amount of hype will add up to the original episode 1 hype unless it is manufactured.

i am really lloking forward to the new harry potter movie. i think the goblet of fire was my favorite of the books thus far.

posted by chris 10:41 AM


Friday, May 13, 2005

 
serial attached SCSI

it's been a while since i have made a good old fashioned nerdy hardware post, but this is just too cool.

SAS is the newest "enterprise storage system" technology. the word enterprise was a big deal when i worked for a start up company. enterprise software and systems are supposed to create the idea of ultra stable, highly avaialable, massively powerful works of corporate IT genius that cost millions of dollars.

the premise is pretty simple, using parrallel interfaces, you ahve to time the arrival of data so everything stays in order. otherwise you have to rassemble the data so that it becomes coherent, or the data itself will be corrupted. couple that with a chain of drives waiting for a shot at the system bus and you have the supposed problem that current storage systems are facing today.

now, keep in mind that we are not talking about gaming systems in someone's house, we are talking about mulit-tetrabyte RAID arrays that cost as much as a small house or a very nice sportscar. this is the "money is no object" class, where downtime is measured in minutes per year and can cost a company millions of dollars.

so, the serial attached scsi is supposed to meet the timing and reassembly problem by piping data serially, or one bit at a time. reads and writes are duplexed and one would presume that the disk susystem controller an write faster and read faster becuse it no longer has to worry about timing things.

so, to recap, serial attached scsi is cool blah blah blah.

now for the really neat part:

most data centers i have seen have two means for storing stuff: live disk (or what the SASbots call online) and tape (or offline). tapes are way cheaper per gig than live disk, but seriously slower. tapes used for archives, backups, and other "library" type functions where data is stroed, catalogued, and filed away, and you ahve to have one or more humans help you to find it and get it copied to live disk so that you can access it.

there is an axiom in computing that is always true: you can have it good, fast and cheap... pick two. live scsi disk space is very fast, and very reliable (good) and *freakin'* expensive. digital linear tape is very affordable (compared to scsi disk) and very reliable, and very slow. individual tapes or trays or many tapes have to be loaded by a human (on in some cases a robot in a silo) and then have to be read on to live disk anyway.

sas can now add a third classification for storage, something that they call nearline. nearline is like economy class live disk, faster than tape, but cheaper than scsi disk. so lets think for a minute... what kind of technology is faster than linear tape, but cheaper than scsi disk?

hmmm... that's tough.

wait! i know! it's ATA!

that's right boys and girls, serial ATA! some day, there will be IDE disks in your data center. these ultra kewl sas towers will house both 15,000 rpm scsi ultra wides (at $1k or more each) along side dirt cheap 7200 RPM SATA disks.

the great IDE vs SCSI debate used to be that scsi disks were bigger, faster, and could support more devices per channel. the IDE camp responded by making faster spinning drives, with larger caches, and adding more channels to most motherboards. but the place where ATA has really won everyone over is in capacity. in the last 3 years, IDE drives have swelled up to 400GB in capacity, and are still half the price of SCSI drives that are half that size.

SCSI snobs have agreed to let filthy mudblood ATA disks into their towers, but they won't let them be first class citizens :-)

posted by chris 6:57 AM


Thursday, May 12, 2005

 
happy slapping... WTF?

this is why i want to live in england.

in the US, someone freaks out and shoots up an office building or shopping mall like once a week. in england, kids think it's funny to slap people and record it on a camera phone. i figure this will be a trand among kids up until one of them gets his or her clock cleaned.

even the english blame TV shows. it's good to know that ignorance is everywhere.

posted by chris 12:54 PM

 
i hate mercenaries

i know that i just professed my undying love for mercenaries, but that was before i had to do the stupid pilot resuce mission.

the premise is pretty simple, go blow up a downed plane, then recue the pilot. so blowing up the plane is easy enough, but rescuing a downed pilot miles behind enemy lines is tough, but that nothing compared to rescuing a pilot that has a deathwish.

this dumbass is trying to get himself killed. clearly, he believes that he should have died in the wreck. no one warns you that he's suicidal... you have to figure that out on your own. one way to tip you off would be for a cutscene that went like this:

merc: hello pilot, i am here to rescue you.
pilot: do not rescue me, i am already dead.

or maybe:
merc: hop in the truck and lets get the hell out of here!
pilot: how about you just back over me, since i fully plan on diving in from of the first enemy tank i see.

but no, he has to do dumb things to get you both killed, including (but not limited to):
diving in front of moving vehicles.
stepping in front of RPGs.
stepping in front of mercs who are shooting at north koreans.
jumping out of the truck that the merc has hijacked.
refusing to get into a captured north korean vehicle until all the north koreans are dead.
refusing to get into a captured north korean vehicle after all the north koreans are dead.
ignoring the "stay here" command.
ignoring the "follow me" command.
ignoring the "don't get yourself killed" command.

my next attempt will involve clubbing the piot over the head and taking him by force :-)

posted by chris 11:42 AM


Tuesday, May 10, 2005

 
i love mercenaries playground of destruction

mercs for the xbox is threatening to take over my life. there is a village called propaganda village, where all the buildings are fake (they're like propped up and stuff, it's pretty funny) so i did a mission there, working for the chinese against the south koreans, and ended up hi jacking a tank blowing the whole place to bits.

after playing GTA, the game is somewhat simplified in comparison. the vehicles are slower, and easier to maneuver, the weapon controls are easier, and the map is simpler and easier to follow. it's like GTA with trianing wheels.

the consequences for killing the soldiers of friendly factions, and civilians, are fairly severe, so you have to watch what you shoot.

the weapons are the best. my favorites are the sniper rifle and the RPG. being able to cap guards from a safe distance is great. vehicles can come equipped with anti-tank rockets and stuff. they are great for a little extra firepower when you can't part with your assault rifle or sniper rifle.

the neatest part is calling for artillery strikes or airstrikes. the russian mafia has a website where you can order airdrops of weapons, vehicles, and ammunition, as well as airstrikes of all kinds.

it's a good game, full of little random plot twists and stuff.

posted by chris 11:34 AM


Thursday, May 05, 2005

 
BBC NEWS: michael jackson looks like a holocaust victim

only he's more tragic cuz he did it to himself.

here is part of a screenshot taken fromm the BBC's new site, off the front page: (my friend roy pointed this out to me)


posted by chris 10:56 AM


Wednesday, May 04, 2005

 
randomness

my life is turned upside down, so rather than organize my thoughts and put the eloquently in to l33tspeak and typos, i thought i would just list them here.

there is a new law that is supposed to target pirates. i am waiting for the day that the RIAA and the MPAA are allowed to just hunt people down and kill them. so if you are reading this ben afflec, i don't watch your movies so you don't have to cut the brakelines in my car or plant explosives in my house.

speaking of which, the solution to piracy is a matter of 5 simple steps (and one very difficult one):
1) release things faster. there is real prestige associated with getting stuff before it's out in the theater. if it all came out at once... dvd, big screen, on demand cable at the same time, why would we want to buy pirate copies? they would lose their appeal. you know, hyping a movie a year before it's out, teaser trilers and crap, it just makes us want stuff more and more.
2) release things everywhere. people in europe and asia have to wait months for stuff and that's why they buy pirated copies. reigon free is the way to be folks.
3) cut the price of the real thing. a visit to the movies some popcorn is like $50 for two people. consessions are really the only way that theaters make ends meet since the film distributors have a monopoly and can set their prices to whatever they want. if the real thing was affordable we wouldn't buy stolen stuff.
4) stop making movies that are crap. movies that cost millions and then don't make much at the box office cost everyone money. why not just make quality films that we don't regret seeing in theaters or buying on DVD? i know, it's hard to keep producing novel content when you have to stick to a formula, why not find a new formula.
5)cut the costs of filmmaking. actors don't need millions and millions for films. yes, difficult films where you lose weight, or film in remote or dangerous places, or perform dangerous stunts, should pay well, but not obscenely. special effects cost, it's true, why not use them more efficiently?
6) do something good with the money you make. if paying for the real thing did the world some good, instead of just benefitting the fatcats, perhaps people would feel bad about pirating. drugs and piracy are supposed to support terrorism, why not make the film and music industries support something good like fighting hunger?

moving on...

i have been playing mercs on the xbox. it's like GTA but with a military theme. you're a mercenary fighting a war in north korea. the missions are simpler, less driving intensive, the vehicles are slower and therefore easier to pilot, and the maps is easier to follow. in short, it's like a simplified version of GTA. it's not better per se, just easier to play. you get penalized for killing civilians, so there is no impetus to just run around killing people.

i gave up on openBSD for my webserver. i'm still going to use it for stuff, but getting several services running on a machine that is so security conscious is tough. i think i am going to set up some sort of DMZ thing, where an OBSD box is a kind of gateway, and other machines actually provide the services. i have been working primarily with slackware lately. it's the only linux that i have been in to since the nastiness with redhat.

i was going to buy harddrives and stuff for some of my adopted PC's, but i decided that that would cost a bloody fortune. instead, i am going to centralize storage in one place. i will outfit one box with gobs of drivespace, and then mount shares from it via samba or NFS. i have finally found a purpose for those little mystery machines that i picked up from farndogg. like all of my "projects", i can't just find a box that's ready to go, i need to find parts to complete it. in particular, i'll need a controller that will support huganic drives. since this is a linux project, i can't just grab any controller, it has to be special.

i have also been looking into freeDOS. i miss being able to flex my mad DOS skills. much like linux, it has one person who has really driven development. there are a few GUIs for it too, but that will come in time. i just pulled the ISO down, and i'll run it on the other mystery machine. i'll post more on this once i actually set it up.

i haven't seen the hitchhiker's guide yet, and i am a little miffed. i saw sin city, and it was really cool. very visually appealing. yes, i paid to see it in the theater. i do that from time to time.

posted by chris 11:27 AM


Friday, April 22, 2005

 
EQ endorsing real world trades

you gettin' yours, i wanna get mine too

so EQ (everquest) is "facilitating" realworld trades. this means that any jerk with money to spend can trade pretty much anything. this is supposedly a $20 million a year business.

this heppened in AC from time to time, but i didn't really care. it is important to note that in AC, this activity was against the code of conduct and would get you banned.

it is also important to note that codes of conduct are treated pretty much like software EULAs, drinking age requirements, and highway speed limits.

for me, trading doesn't matter because i don't do it. what it does do, is create a trend where the company finally authorizes and even encourages activities that were at one time considered violations.

of particular concern to me is using third part tools to run your character when you are not at the console. in AC this was called macroing, or an "unattended combat macro" (UCM).

the problem with macroing your character up was that many people did it, outgrew the games contnet and complained that it was no fun anymore, and turbine increased the difficulty of content in the game landscape.

the result was that new players to an established game (like me) who didn't want to be helped or powerleveled, get killed repeatedly by monsters as they make their way to a section or dungeon that is appropriate to their level. that makes levelling up legitimately very difficult.

i have stopped playing AC, and when it is released i would like to play Dungeons and Dragons Online, and Middle Earth Online. if those two games suck, i think i will have to give up MMORPGs all together.

posted by chris 3:04 PM


Tuesday, April 19, 2005

 
you have to see this to believe it

a choir singing video game music

and that is all.

posted by chris 9:15 PM

 
funny MS propaganda

far be it from me to endorse something from the evil empire, but these videos are pretty funny.

posted by chris 6:30 PM


Monday, April 04, 2005

 
Wired 13.04: La Vida Robot: 'PowerPoint is a distraction... People use it when they don't know what to say.'

this article is really cool.

4 illegal aliens in phoenix, AZ took on the kids at MIT in an underwater robot competition. it's a great read.

posted by chris 5:02 PM

 
it's offical, i'm old

i went to buy some red doc martens this weekend and none of the places i went to had them, and the folks who worked there had never heard of them. they had doc martens, just not cherry reds or oxbloods. so after searching the web for a bit, it turns out that doc martens doesn't make them any more. i saw a buynch on ebay, and i found one place that sells them for a decent price, once i figure out my UK shoe size.

i'm not one for clothing labels, so maybe this is a common occurence, shopping for something rare, and i am just not accustomed to putting forth such effort for an article of clothing. i often buy clothes at the same places i buy groceries. i suppose that since there are several cable programs devoted to the pursuit of fashion and style that maybe people do put effort in to it.

there are lots of docs for sale on ebay, but i am not so sure i want to purchase used footwear. that seems pretty icky.

posted by chris 12:16 PM


Wednesday, March 30, 2005

 
WEASEL ALERT!!! 'Podcasters' look to net money

there is a new buzz word, appearantly 4 people on the internet think "podcasting" is cool, which means business weasels are now scrambling to find out how to suck money from it.

this is why dotcoms all went under. people confused real viable technologies with money.

weblogs in any form (video, audio, still pics, flat text, even in print) are hot right now, but not for the reasons that people think. they are hot becuse they empower free speech. they enable members of the global community. they are the tools of real democracy.

not governmental democracy, but real philosophical democracy, where we all have something to day and meduim with which to say it. there isn't a freakin' dime to be made by giving people the ability to be heard. not everything that people say will be worth hearing, but that's the risk of free speech... hearing things you may not want to hear.

why does this stuff always have to be about money? i haven't made a dollar from this blog or this site. i am fortunate that the folks that run hobbiton host me for free, so i don't spend anything on it but time, and i like doing it, and seeing my thoughts in my browser window. other than that, this site hasn't produced a thing for me and it probably never will.

oh, and one of the dudes invloved in "podcasting" is adam "the mullet king" curry, the former MTV VeeJay. you'll forgive me for not jumping on the bandwagon for any technology endorsed by DarthMullet.

posted by chris 4:05 PM


Saturday, March 26, 2005

 
wikipedia is your friend

now with 90% fewer tentacles

megatokyo is the only anime/manga thing i get into. i have watched a few in the past, but it's always been mainstream stuff. i am amazed at how there can be so many shows and movies based on the same thing. i mean, how many movies do there need to be about schoolgirls with magical powers, or cute animals with magical powers, or giant flying robots (often with magical powers)? well accroding to the japanese, any idea worth having, is worth replicating again and again and again. so today's "megatokyo mystery" was what a magical girl was.

as i have discovered, a "magical girl" is a young girl with magical powers and an outfit that is like 4 sizes to small, who fights evil to protect generic virtues like peace or love. the most common example is "sailor moon".

you can't just google for anime/manga stuff for fear that you run across things with tentacles (or the deviant hatecrimes committed by said tentacles). i only get about half of the stuff in megatokyo, so sometimes i have to look it up. this isn't a big deal, sometimes i have to look up stuff before the strips in penny arcade or vg cats actually they make sense. if you have never played or even heard of the game, it's hard to get the jokes about them.

so a safe place to look up anime stuff is wikipedia. it has loads of great information with a very low occurence of tentacles.

i have nothng against people who are into tentacles. being into tentacles, to me, is like being gay, it's certainly not my thing, but others are welcome to it if it happens to be their thing. if so many people are into it it must not be deviant. i'd just rather not have graphic depictions of it (or pretty much anything pr0n-like) pop up in my browser at work at the wrong moment. i am not sure corporate america is ready for tenacles. i don't think J-pervs are a protected species just yet, and pr0n in any form is not a good idea in t3h w0rkpl4c3.

posted by chris 10:55 PM


Tuesday, March 22, 2005

 
the revival of renegades as a community game

for those of you who were never enslaved by the call of tribes, here is a little background: tribes was a great game produced by dynamix, who were then bought and sold and bought again. the original game was OK, but the renegades mod made it all worth while. the first version nearly consumed my whole life, and tribes two was a real let down.

i have only played the "un-renegades" version of tribes 1 a handful of times and it is nothing compared to renegades. i started playing tribes with renegades classic, it wasn't until i stumbled into a "tribes base" server that i realized what renegades was.

a new tribes game came out, and the consensus was that it's network code was poor and it didn't support many players, which kind of defeats the purpose.

i grabbed a copy of tribes from planet renegades, dropped the elite pack and spoonbot on, and whacked bots for old times sake. a dude even hopped into my game for a bit, tho he left after i blew him away a few times.

well, the guys at renwerx (the guys who made renegades, not tribes) have decided to stop focusing on tribes and just work with the legends team to make their own game.

i think that this is really cool, tho i will be interested to see what vivendi universal has to say about their brand.

i have always been a big fan of mods and TCs for games, it's like getting a new game with all the things you love about the old one.

oh, and the renegades guys say it will be free, how cool is that?

posted by chris 6:37 PM


Friday, March 18, 2005

 
Frag Dolls: setting women in computing back like 3000 years.

fragdolls, the ubisoft equivalent of budweiser girls, are these models hired by ubi to look hot and pretend to play games. i'm sure the blogs and artilces and stuff *might* be written by actual women, just not the women in these pictures.

see, every bit of advocacy i have ever seen for women in computing, from the linux community to gaming to math in general, involves NOT objectifying them. you know, like treating them like people and stuff, instead of hitting on them or gawking at them.

i am not naive, i know that hawt gurliez can sell pretty much anything, including video games, i just think that the real women who play games are not going to appreciate this kind of thing.

the idea is hot, even if it is totally fake. mind you, it's not nearly as hawt as unix chix. tho ubi payed good money for their living, jiggling ad campaign, so i guess it would be in their best interest to have their rented hotties play games, not hack unix. so if you guys at sun or ibm, or *sigh* redhat are reading this... how about some unix ch1X0rs?

oh, they even have a spot where they explain that they aren't glorified booth babes, even though there was a casting call and they are totally bankrolled by ubi.

this really cheezes me cuz real women in gaming (like pandy, my fiance) do exist. they do play games other than the sims (tho pandy sucks at tekken :-)) and they don't appreciate the boysclub mentality of the video game industry.

posted by chris 7:10 PM


Tuesday, March 15, 2005

 
Looming pitfalls of work blogs

i hope none of my callers read this blog. if you do, i hope you have a good sense of humor :-)

if anyone mistakes this blog for journalism, then the joke is on them. i don't write so other people will read it. sometimes that happens and it's kind of cool, but for the most part it's an important means of venting the frustration that i face being who i am and where i am, and doing what i do. sometimes there are topics that i avoid here becuase they don't fit. if i want to be political, i have a blog for that elsewhere. if i want to talk about my personal religious beliefs i have a blog for that too. i try to keep this blog to geeky stuff. i don't really discuss my personal life all that much here because internet people are weird and i don't want accounts of my perosnal life falling into the wrong hands :-)

i also don't offer comments, or even an email address to submit feedback because i don't write for that. i write for myself and that's pretty much it. some people are entertained by my writing and have told me so, and i have never turned someone away for contacting me, but honestly it just doesn't happen all that much. mostly, my friends just come check it out from time to time.

posted by chris 9:48 AM


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

 
OMFGWTFNSFW!!!

flash vid of a peekay wanker.

posted by chris 6:50 PM


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

 
BBC: American media vs the blogs

so appearantly, i am either a threat to the Mainstream Media in the US or a salivating moron. i am not sure which one, and appearantly neither is anyone else.

i think the truth is somewhere in the middle... thanks to the internet, the tools that made journalism possible are now in the hands of ordinary people. for better or worse, the age-old institution of journalism has been given away to the common man.

this is nothing new, it happening to businesses, software companies, publishing, you name it.

the internet is here, it has given us all a voice and we can now get our thoughts out to others in a way that simply was not possible before.

all of you giants are going to have to get used to the fact that ordinary people can distribute their thoughts, ideas, opinions, lies, and whatever just like the mainstream media does. we can do this thanks to the empowerment of the internet.

we can have our say now on entertainment, politics, sports, even our personal lives. we can exchange this information for free, so if you want us to pay for your premium services (tuning in to your shows, watching your ads, etc.) then you are going to have to make it worth our while. that shit's all commodity now, nothing unique or interesting about it.

so if you want me to buy your product (your news, your entertainment, your information) then you are going to have to make a better product than the common man could.

anyone with a computer can now write a novel, make music, make a movie, publish a comic strip, write and distribute a piece of software, play a game, start a community, or pretty much anything else that they can dream up, for free or nearly free. we don't NEED your products anymore, so you are going to have to make it worth paying for again so that we can justify the expense once again.

posted by chris 1:03 PM


Monday, March 07, 2005

 
CBS News | GameSpeak: Jack Thompson evil lawdroid esquire

take off every lawdroid for infinite justice.

wow. this guy seems to be for real.

well, no he doesn't. he sees that the video game industry is worth billions a year and he wants his cut. i am sure he really is concerned about t3h children and the gullible white people who think children are innocent and need protecting... and not the steaming piles of fundage that could be excreted by an industry that is litterally pregnant with income and lacking a landmark case (and precendent) where someone failed to cash out rich.

check out his website. it sounds like the ads i see on TV for ambulance chasers. "were you injured by videogame violence? the law offices of dewey, cheatum, and howe are here for you. remember, we don't get paid unless you collect."

this reminds me of the opening to a dead kennedy's song:
we came home and found out son lying dead on hid bed from a gunshot wound. he had his headphones on and there was an ozzy record on the turntable. so we called our lawyers.


if you really want to stop video game crime, here are some real crimes that need to be stopped:
  1. jerks and wankers in online games: dudes that macro, or peekay. they need to be sued, or at least given the death penalty.

  2. fanboys for games that aren't released yet: dudes that crowd game forums with talk about a game that isn't even in beta. one dude in particular polluted our asheron's call forums with hype about horizons. he talked about how great it was and whatever, how it could restore your virginity and elminate erectile dysfunction. then HZ goes retail and he's already talking about World of Warcraft and how it restored his grandmother's eyesight before it even went beta. those dudes totally need to do hard time.

  3. server downtime: whomever causes that needs to be sued back to the stone age.

  4. dudes with retarded handles: guys with racist screen names, or ones that were composed of a random synonym for death or suffering and a random foodstuff (names like deathcheese, agonyfries, or pizzacide) unless it also makes a pun, like coma-toast, because that's just *so* bloody clever.

  5. trolls in gaming forums: or any forum for that manner. trolls love to argue, so a lawyer might make a good match for them.


posted by chris 1:26 PM


Thursday, March 03, 2005

 
der sveedesch sheff videoen

here are some swedish chef videos

these are great. he was my favorite muppet. i ran across them after using swedish chef google to search for videos for my friend neepa. she'd never seen the swedish chef. and they say the US has no culture.

posted by chris 12:21 PM


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

 
cool pics from ww1

these are color photos from world war 1, some of them seem modern, they lack all the qualities that make photos look old.

posted by chris 11:46 AM


Monday, February 28, 2005

 
India finds more 'tsunami gifts'

this is really cool :-)

posted by chris 12:45 PM


Monday, February 21, 2005

 
love and darkness and my side arm

i have watched "the bourne identity" and "the bourne supremacy" like 60 times now, and the closing credits is a track by moby called "extrme ways". a handful of his tracks are cool, but one especially is his one called "southside" which he does with gwen stefani. in particular, i like the words, but this verse is my favorite:

Here we are now going to the west side
Weapons in hand as we go for a ride
Some may come and some may stay
Watching out for a sunny day where there's
Love and darkness and my sidearm

posted by chris 6:57 PM

 
Making phone calls over the net

i am very eager to see VOIP take off. nothing makes me happier than to see an internet based technology gut the profits of a greedy industry.

posted by chris 5:04 PM

 
Finding new homes for old phones

this is the exact same argument that has been had over computers. essentailly, there are tons of out dated computers/phones that are finding their ways into dumpsters instead of into the hands of poor people in under developed nations.

my friend unlocked mine so you can use it with any GSM carrier (calm down FCC, you sitll need to be set up with a carrier like AT&T or whatever).

posted by chris 5:02 PM


Sunday, February 13, 2005

 
VBscript is retarded

so i have been kind of teaching myself VB script in my ASP ventures. thus far, i have found that since VBscript doesn't have it's own include command, it's hard to do server side includes as elegantly as you can in PHP.

there is a SSI directive that you can use, but you can't use it in actual ASP code. the exact situation i am referring to is having to do an include based on a specific event. on this website, the blog links only get included when you are on the blog related pages.in PHP this is fairly easy, in pseudocode it works like this:
if $page==blog_stuff then include(blog_links.php)

but since the VBscript language doesn't have an include statement, you have to drop out of ASP in order to throw the include. this is great if you want to iterate thru a bunch of if/else statements, but it sucks when you want the name of the incuded file to kept in a variable.

so this doesn't work:
include($include_file)

instead you have to use the file ssytem object to read the file in. this seems pretty bruteforce to me. i think it's since i ran across this issue in my first week of coding. when you consider that my ability to code is suspect at best, it's a real slam on VBscript.

so anyway, i found this snippet on w3 schools ASP howto that lets me do the thin i want:
<% Set fs=Server.CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject") Set f=fs.OpenTextFile(Server.MapPath("testread.txt"), 1) Response.Write(f.ReadAll) f.Close Set f=Nothing Set fs=Nothing %>


and then i replaced (Server.MapPath("testread.txt") with the variable name for the file to be included like so:
(Server.MapPath("page_content")


then at the top of the page somewhere you set the page_content variable. i did it in a case statement, like this:
select case page
case "blog"
page_title = "ubar sekseh weblog"
page_logo = "ubar sekseh ASP blog"
page_content = "/content/blog.html"
blog_link = "<a class="hot" href="default.asp?link=blog">blog :-)>/a>"
case "aspcrap"
page_title = "ubar sekseh ASP crap"
page_logo = "how to be ubar sekseh like me"
page_content = "/content/crap.html"
crap_link = "<a class="hot" href="default.asp?link=aspcrap">ASP crap :-)>/a>"
case "about"
page_title = "about ubar sekseh chris"
page_logo = "all about chris"
page_content = "/content/about.html"
about_link = "<a class="hot" href="default.asp?link=blog">about me! :-)>/a>"
case "news"
page_title = "ubar sekseh ASP news"
page_logo = "read the n3\/\/s f00!!"
page_content = "/content/news.html"
news_link = "<a class="hot" href="default.asp?link=news">news :-)>/a>"
case "links"
page_title = "chris's favorite links"
page_logo = "mmmm... linkage"
page_content = "/content/links.html"
end select


that, plus a little more ASP magic will let you run a whole site off one page.

what's nice about that is you don't need to squirrel too much away into include files, since there is really only one page to update. that one page can be pretty hard to read tho.

when i haven't updated this site in a while, i have to spend some time getting acquainted with all what is kept in what include file.

posted by chris 9:40 PM


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

 
anime people are freakin' weird

and coming from a dude who takes tech support calls for a lining, that's saying a lot.

so i read megatokyo cuz i like largo and junpei. about half of the stuff in it is generic geek related stuff. largo is this uberl33t dude is genreally pretty cool, junpei is a ninja. they are cool, nuff said.

the expliots of junpei and largo are not quite half of the stuff that goes into megatokyo. the rest is a bunch of weird manga crap with girls sighing and no one talking to eachother which makes no sense to me. this isn't me hating on MT any more than i would hate on english literature since i don't get english lit for the same reasons. i am a romantic, what can i say.

so piro, the dude who does megatokyo, has this rant about the crap that piro rants about. it's neat cuz piro is this neurotic mess so his stuff is a blast to read. anyway, he talks about himself like a computer operating system, and the pic for it is a link to a wikipedia article on OS-tans. this is where i am reminded that megatokyo is this gateway into the weird universe that is anime/manga/other jfan weirdness.

essentially, anime geeks obsess over cute teenage girls. i don't really undertand this. they spend what appears to be hours of time and loads of talent to create pictures and works with the. it's odd since all they really want to do is stuff them with tentacles.

as proof that they have jailbait on the brain, they have made these little mascots for operating systems. this sounded innocent enough and i thought i might even snatch one to use as like a wallpaper or something. boy was that a mistake.

well, it works like this: NEVER use google's image search for jappanese words. i don't care what japanese word it is, i guarantee you that you will see something that you cannot unsee. google will stop being your friend.

so back to the point: OS-tans are these weird jfan things. the wikipedia article is here. any other searching you do may not be safe. you have been warned.

posted by chris 9:32 PM


Monday, February 07, 2005

 
fun with IIS

IIS was always easy to set up and get working. all there were wizards and stuff to set everything up and in general was far less cryptic than apache.

just like any application made by MS, occasionally iis would freak out over nothing, or simply, stop serving pages. you could liken it to the houses built by the 3 little pigs, setting up a unix/linux/BSD machine with apache meant a lot of figuring out upfront, and then very little worry afterward, like the house that was made out of bricks. IIS was very easy to set up, but youneeded to monitor it a little more to besue it hadn't fallen asleep at the wheel... like the house that was made of sticks.

the new IIS appears to be much like the first iteration, requiring wizards and stuff to set up, whihc seem to be pretty striaght forward. this new 2003 version however is backed by a new "paraniod security" feature where it will suddenly stop doing stuff until you have explicitly set things like file permissions or allowed the execution of things like active server pages. oh, and if you get too crazt with your permission shanges, you'll need to bounce the web service. in fact, like all NT based servers, you should bounce it periodically just to be safe.

so to review... IIS and it predecessors were a little like retarded narcaleptics.. they'd just doze off on you at weird times and you had to be very clear in your instructions to them. this new version with 2003's security model is still fairly retarded and narcaleptic, only with the added bonus of punching you in the head at weird times as well. think of it as a violent narcaleptic retard.

posted by chris 11:19 AM


Saturday, January 29, 2005

 
strange fun with knoppix

i recently adopted some offlease dell optiplexes. they are a bit more horsepower than my current crop of adoptees, so i have set about the great redistribution of resources.

my daughter loves to go to kid sites like nick.com and popcap games. so i decided it was time for her to get her own box to play on. since she isn't at my place all that often, i decided to dual boot a box with win2k (for the little girl) and knoppix. there is a bare harddrive on the machine, so i may add a third OS once i decide on one. the win2k install went as well as could be expected. i dodn't go a crazy with the config as i do on my own workstations (separate swap partitions and the like) nor did the knoppix one. they both essentially installed in single partitions (there is a linux swap partition as well).

it's funny how you have to download all sorts of crap to get weindows where it should be and knoppix loads fialrly well out of the box. there are the stupid browser plugins that never work, but other than that it's pretty much done for you.

i figured out how to use cdrecord to make disks. i have this old burner that i lost the windoze software for years ago. so it's pretty much useless unless i can dig up a copy of roxio or whatever, whcih i really haven't put much effort in to.

so cdrecord, like all really great unix xhell commands, works with a set of cryptic arguments. usually what i do is figoure out how to use the command, then worite a shell cript of abstract way the stuff that i'll never remember. i figure that most of whci i will use it for is burning ISO fiels, so i made a little script called isoburn.

i went to write it and realized that there was no pico editor on my machine. i did a little (very little) reading on the debian FTP server and found that pine (the mail client for which pico is the editor for) is not a GPL product. it's released under some sort of university license and is not part fo the debian (and therefore knoppix) install. i will need to be root to save the file in /usr/local/bin, and set ther permissions on it, so i thought i might just fireup kwrite or some other gui editor and write the script from there. well, starting kwrite while su'd to root means you cannot access the xserver 0,0. i'll have to log off and log in to the x server as root, which means stopping my ISO download or waiting for it to finish. i go a really great download rate on some slackware mirror, so i really don't want to wait or stop. i'll need to use a command line editor of some kind, so i'll ahve to grab a package for pico or nano and install it.

yeah, right.

this is where i should break into my "i don't like linux anymore cuz it's all fragmented and stupid" rant, but suffice it to say that i am not into linux all that much (other than slackware, which is still unix like and not headed off in it's own direction) thanks to everyone re-inventing the packaging system. GNU make is a great way to package source, so why not use it? who knows. there are always statically compiled binaries, but we don't do those either.

so i first see that there is this thing called nano, that is a Free as in freedom replacement for pico. sweet. i'll grab the debian package for it and install that. i figure out that the package thingy is called apt-get, and so i use wget to sraf that package from an FTP site and i try to run "apt-get install package name" and i get an error: cannot find package package name.

to which my repsonse is "well retard, the package is right freaking there" and i try to decipher the right way to run apt-get. after a few minutes i just give up and pull the pine package off the debian FTP site.

so after untarring into /tmp, i set about installing it. look thru the root of the pine folder and don't see a configure script. i see one called build. i run build and it asks for a target name. after a little sleuthing i figure out how to run the build script for debian linux, and get it built.

so now i have some binaries sitting in a driectroy called bin, so i set out to move them to /usr/local/bin, and i get an error about how the last arg eeds to be a directory. after a little head scratching i figure out that there is no /usr/local/bin. i know what you're saying: "WTF? no /usr/local/bin?" i said it too.

if there is no /usr/local/bin, there probably isn't a path to it anywhere. so i moved everythign to /usr/bin.

i was then able to edit my little script usng pico while su'd to root.

whew!

posted by chris 10:07 PM


Wednesday, January 26, 2005

 
Microsoft makes anti-piracy move

w00t. they released neutered version of windows to poor countries, now they are cracking down on pirated versions by denying access to updates for illegitimate versions.

this sounds like a brilliant move and a boon to open source fans everywhere now that people will be moving off of windows in droves and in to Free software in record numbers :-)

yeah, whatever.

they have already tried stopping ethical activists from distributing security fixes. which has pretty much set the stage for a battle with the Not Exactly Ethical Community. the NEEC is a loose affiliation of hackers, crackers, p2p swappers, warez d00dz, gamers, and the mod community. these guys are as prevalent as they are difficult to find.

there have widely distributed digital networks that operate on the web, in IRC, and over p2p systems, they also have invisible operators in communities like yours. chances are you work with or know a guy with all the latest software, games, music, movies, or whatever. that guy is your "hookup", a sort of gateway into the NEEC.

you can fight them all that you want. you can spend all the cash you want trying to harden and secure your IP against digital theft. there will always be millions of people with more time and ingenuity than money who will find a way around your safeguards.

these guys are a threat to your bottom line... they are also the reason that people buy your crap in the first place.

the NEEC, with it's "hookups", provide access to products and information for more "conventional" users. the NEEC has families, friends, coworkers, and sometimes even clients, that will legitimately purchase your product based on the recommendation of NEEC members. this is has to account for at least a portion of your sales. the NEEC hurts your sales by using your stuff for free. they also bring you sales by talking about your product to people who will buy them the old fashioned way. so before you try to stomp them out of existence, think about what you're doing, especially since fighting it will only cost you money. it's not like the NEEC actually spends money to break thru your copyright measures, and even if they did, it would pale in comparison to your outlay for these measures.

posted by chris 11:05 AM


Tuesday, January 25, 2005

 
how do you afford your digital lifestyle?
Bill Gates plots a Windows future

billg talked about the PC as the new center of home entertainment. this is cool to think about in the abstract, but not quite as cool when you think about regular people, who can't set the clock on thier VCR's trying to get their media center PC to boot.

and also there is the testament to the holy mother church of digital rights.

this all makes me feel all outlaw and whatnot since i watched a rip of an old akira kurasawa flick on my xbox last night using xbox media center.

i guess that is the point of this whole digital rights thing... the people who have never paid for these things (warez, MP3's, whatever) probably never will. that's ok tho cuz these kinds of services and stuff are not tailored for those people. they are meant for the folks that have always paid as they go.

i have only bought 3 operating systems outright... two were windows installed on laptops that i bought, one was a copy of corel linux about 4 years ago. they haven't stopped selling windows in stores, so obviously they are still able to turn a profit on that stuff somehow. MS is still in business even though i couldn't name a single human who has actually paid for a piece of their software.

it should be pointed out that businesses HAVE to use legit software, so they are much easier to catch than private citizens. that works well for software companies, but not necessarily for music or video companies since there isn't much cultural enforcement for "legitimate" use.

posted by chris 4:10 PM

 
your new password is P@ssw0rd

the move to strong passwords is just too much for the lower primates that i serve. one system for which people constantly need passwords reset is one where the username must be enterd in uppercase. this is just too much their muggle brains, especially since they are in the habit of using the capslock key, since even with the caps lock on, you still ahve to hit the shift key to get special characters like !@#$.

is that a capital 3?

yeah genius, it's a capital 3. why don't you take out a piece of paper and draw me a capital 3. then slip it into the mail cuz i am dying to see a capital 3. i only attended a public school, so i wasn't exposed to advance subjects like capital numbers.

see the capslock is called a capslock because it locks the capital letters on the keyboard. if it locked the shift keys on, it would be called the shiftlock. as luck would have it, it only works on the letters, so it was named the capslock instead. there is another key, called the numlock that locks the numbers on. it only works on numbers, hence the name numlock.

don't ever touch the scroll lock key. it would cause your little muggle head to explode.

lots of people ask me what a special character is. to this i respond "the dollar sign". there is only one special character and it's the dollar sign. always use it and nothing else.

posted by chris 11:53 AM


Monday, January 10, 2005

 
imdb never lets me down

so there is this movie coming out called OngBak, which is from thailand and is suppoed to be about muay thai. it was on the "coming soon" list on IMDB, much to my delight, and i have been waiting for a chance to see this film ever since i ran across it on HSX. i play hsx everyday and i am worth almost $5mil as of today. you start the game with $2mil. my goal is to get my ranking out of the 6 digit range in into the 5 digit range.

so like the idiot that i am, i read some of the imdb forum messages on the film and there is rumor that jackie chan and the thai dude from ongbak will do a flick together. i stumbled across this little thread in the forums wehre they argue over kungfu movies, which made me chuckle:
IMDb :: Boards :: Ong-bak (2003)

in case you missed it, here is my take on forums and message boards of any kind:
1) unmoderated forums are full of jerks
2) moderated forums are moderated by jerks.

so here is the bottomline: never participate a forum with more than a hundred active posters.

tho feel free to lurk and poke fun at threads and posters when you stumble across them, just not in the forum itself. better to have your laugh in a forum where no one can reply :-)

posted by chris 1:25 PM

 
camera angles

the new resident evil comes out today, and it's recevied 15.79 stars out of a possible 6 in every publication that has accepted money for a good review. previous iterations of RE relied on a changing camera angle to provide your view of the action.

camera angles are neat when they work, because it looks like you are watching your dude do his thing in a movie. camera angles suck when they aren't working because you end up with this extreme closeup of a table leg while this flaming zombie demon bites your testicles off offscreen.

now the camera is supposed to be some kind of fixed view "over-the-shoulder" sort of thing in the new RE. i guess that makes it kind of like a FPS but not.

before HALO2, i used to think that first person shooters were devoid of these viewing angle problems. in halo, your dude takes so long to turn around that you never know that the badguys are behind you until it's too late. this is especailly bad when teh badguy has a sword, since he can kill you in a single swing. the only time cameras in games work is when you have a mouse.

posted by chris 11:09 AM


Friday, January 07, 2005

 
free as in freedom

i just read "free as in freedom" by sam williams, which is a kind of biography about richard stallman. stallman is one of my heroes, along with eric raymond and linus torvolds. stallman is an interesting person because of his unwaivering commitment to his own ethics, even to his detriment. he so firmly believes in Free software that he will not accept any substitution. he has re-written volumes of software rather than use the commercial stuff and i find that truly admirable.

i am reluctant to wave the open source flag because, as a gamer, i pay for commercial software all the time... or worse, steal it.

after reading the book, i have an insight into GNU and how it is separate from, and preceeds linux. compared to the way GNU was developed, linux is the product of utter chaos and immaturity. compared to linux, GNU is antiquated, stagnated, and arrogant. the two represent the extremes of the open source philosophy. the stallman way is to be unyielding on the pursuit of freedom and perfection, the torvolds way is to never turn away an idea, good or bad. GNU way would be perfect if it wasn't mired in its own politics, and the linux way would be perfect if it was possible to understand. the GNU utilities are standard across the board in most unices and are robust to the point of being bulletproof, however they haven't produced anything earth shattering in a few years. linux has grown exponentially and there are new distributions popping up everyday, along with great new applications that would work great if only you figure out what libraries you needed. GNU needs to be more like linux, and linux needs to be more like GNU.

my linux fandom has waned thanks to redhat's shinnanegans with fedora. i loaded RH8 on a box a couple of years ago and it was nothing like the linux or unix that i am familiar with... you had to use wizards to configure everything and it loaded a million packages that i didn't know what they did. redhat 9 was even worse and with the release of fedora, or the final nail in the coffin as i like to call it, redhat pretty much came out and said hobbyists (guys like me) weren't worth making legitmate projects for, so i will probably never touch another redhat install again.

that pretty much leaves two distros left that are still "unixy", slackware and debian. debian's package system is weird (much like redhat's RPM system) so that pretty much leaves me with slackware. slackware's package system is pretty much just tarballs, which i like, since i don't really trust automated installers.

i still love linux, it's just that i have matured enough in my geekdom to see that linux is just one tool in the toolbox, not a toolbox itself. the bash shell, perl, apache, pine... it all works on other platforms besides linux. linux is just the box that all that stuff goes in.

the thing to keep in mind is the chronology of the players in this game. stallman is a first generation (pre-unix) hacker, from a time when most software was free and people shared CPU time on the same machine, usually a monlithic monstrisity deep in the bowels of the building, and there was almost no one on the internet. he saw how it was in the AI lab at MIT, and wants to take us all back there. raymond is a second generation (unix) hacker, who saw the old days where software was something you made or were given as icing on the hardware you bought, and the coming of the new days where proprietary software would trade alongside commodity hardware. this was the fall of dinosaurs and the rise of the unix workstation. torvolds is a third generation (post-unix) hacker, with ready access to the internet and cheap hardware (in the form of the personal computer) who wanted to build something to satisfy a need, rather than set out to change the world, the way stallman did. torvolds started linux as something to tide him over until the GNU kernel (HURD) was finished. things ended up not working out that way.

in the old ways, hardware and systems were so expensive and so specialized that it made sense to custom build applications for them since they were rarely, if ever, replaced. in the new ways, hardware and systems are becoming commoditized, even disposable. thanks to the addition of intel and the x86 platform to the list of possiblities, there is a hardware platform for any level that you want to play/pay at, from the $500 PC to the $10mil supercomputer. as computers went from these giant things that whole universities and companies shared with support from administrators and programmers (or hackers), to these personalized things in every person's home, the need grew for general purpose software that worked pretty much right out of the box with little or no customization. people at home, who may not be computing or engineering professionals don't have time to code their own utilities, so for them buying prebuilt software with a simple installer is a viable option. this is the way it has worked from the early nineties until now.

computer hardware is now, thankfully, a commodity. if you need a box on the cheap, then there are plenty of components to choose from on the i386 platform, and thanks to resellers and auction sites like eBay, older systems from unix vendors like SGI, SUN and DEC are also available. the time has now come for software to become a commodity as well. linux is a good start, GNU is a great foundation, and apache, mySQL and PHP (know collectively as LAMP) are the building blocks for web applications that can be accessed using firefox or konqueror. there are hundreds of programming and scripting lagnuages and gui toolkits for building other stuff, should the need arise. thanks to sites like sourceforge and freshmeat, it is possible to search for applications that have already been made and may fit a particularly specialized purpose, at least that's the theory.

this is where open source and free software seems to have lagged and will continue to lag if you compare it with the world of proprietary software. now that a considerable portion of planet earth is connected to the worldwide web, it is no longer the domain of the hardcore hackers of any generation. being online is no longer a guarantee that you are technical enough to use a computer. using a computer is no longer a guarantee that you are technical enough to use a computer. much care needs to go into the design and deveoplment of programs that will be used by these non-technical types, whom i lovingly refer to as "muggles". because most open source software is built by technical people to be used mostly by technical people, most of it may not yet be ready for muggle consumption. i think that many people view this as a shortcoming of the software or of the community, but i disagree.

i would agree that the technical barriers for many end user applications need to be lowered. one should not have to know how to use a debugger in order to surf the web on a system built from open source software. i also think that most users are a little underpowered for the journey into Freedom and need to be upgraded. i think that the linux desktop is almost to that point, so i thnk it is time for the garden variety user to step up to the plate. i think that if a user wants to get off the expensive deathmarch of vendor induced product lifecycles and upgrade paths, and step into a world where you can afford to own the software and content you use instead of renting it, like many companies would like, or stealing it the way many of us already do, then you are going to have to rise up to the level of a competent computer user.

if we, the technical aristocracy, expect the rest of the unwashed masses to take a step up to our level, then we are going to have to take step down to theirs as well. we cannot hope to meet in the middle, there are some that even technical people look upon as wizards, and there are some muggles that will never gain even the most rudimentary of technical skills. somewhere between the bottom and the top is a group of people who are either able to step up, or able to step down to assist others in their ascensions.

i am not calling for all geeks to sponsor a muggle in his or her re-education, i am calling for those of us who are users of free and open source technology but not necessarily strong or vocal community members to do what we always do for those not as skilled as ourselves and help out.

we are all on the hook to help someone, it might be our family or our friends, but more often than not we get pumped for free advice or tech support on something, why not extend that to the folks around us that might be interested in linux, or the gimp, or even just open office? i am fairly strong on hardware, networking, and operating systems, but not that great at office applications. i do most of my writing in either a web browser or a text editor (which is why this weblog is as poorly typed as it is) and i couldn't create a presentation if you put a gun to my head. i often have to ask someone's help on the microsoft office questions that i field at work, so obviously everyone has something to offer.

so that is my proposal: do what we've always done, just do more of it. pitch in to usher in the opensource movement by helping others past the barriers.

that's the hope anyway.

posted by chris 4:04 PM


Thursday, January 06, 2005

 
PDF files piss me off

i hate PDF files with a passion. they suck. i hate not being able to search them just with CRTL+F and i hate having wait for them to load into adobe acrobat advertiser (oops, i mean reader) just to find out that there is nothing of any use in the stupid document. what possible use could the PDF serve other than to piss me off? it certainly couldn't be a way to make documents accessible. PDF is supposed to stand for Portable Document Format, which is a lie, the only truly portable document format is HTML. the P should stand for "printable" since it can help you protect your stupid formatting and "look and feel" to ensure that your doc looks pleasing no matter who you hand it to. it also makes sure it looks good on paper, because idiots have to print something in order to read it. or maybe the P should stand for "pointless" since nothing makes a document more useless than turning it into a PDF. pdf's are good for protecting your stupid formatting and protecting your stuff so people can't copy it. both of these "features" are stupid.

here's a little tip that adobe doesn't want me to share with you: it doesn't matter how pretty a document is, if it doesn't say something worth reading, people won't read it. if your document is crap, no one will want to copy it. if you think your words are so important that you need to protect them from being copied, then that is pretty clear indicator that you have nothing important to say.

technical documentation is my favorite kind of worhtless document. if i made laptop computers, i sell what;s left of my soul to the dark forces under the earth to get people to view my documentation. i would want them to read it, and copy it and give it to their friends so they could read it and tell everyone how cool the documentation is in hopes that would buy one of my laptops.

the practice of putting technical documentation in PDF format is the solution to a problem that doesn't exist. it's also the biggest waste of resources i have ever seen. instead of spending resources on making crappy documents look pretty, why not focus those resources on making the documents be less crappy?

posted by chris 8:58 PM


Tuesday, January 04, 2005

 
i used to live here

i lived in this place called uhlerborn when it was a military housing complex

it was a near a neat little town called heideshiem that has a festival every summer.

posted by chris 10:34 PM


Monday, January 03, 2005

 
pheer teh modded xbox

my modded xbox came home from the chop shop today. my buddy farndogg dropped a chip in it and it is dead sexeh.

first, the chip adds some LEDs to the front and the inside of the box, which makes it look more like a real computer.

second, its got a bunch of extra apps, like the dongle-less DVD player (so you can play DVD's without the stupid $30 remote kit) and xbox media center so i can watch movies and slideshows and stuff. you can FTP avi files and stuff to it and watch them thru XBMC. once i get a hugantic harddrive put in it i will park all of my digital video stuff there.

i am going to put up pages about my Xbox and my TV box, and some other projects so i can keep track of their status so you don't have to dig thru the blog archives for them.

posted by chris 8:05 PM

 
happy newyear

this is the first post in the 2005 blog. w00t.

hopefully this page will load faster now that there is only one year's worth of posts here. the previous years are archived on the left.

the holidays were great, for holidays anyway. i am not hung over anymore, but i am not eager to get back to work. i have made a few newyear's resolutions, one of whcih is to stop drinking soda again. i have have been a serious sodaholic for the past year, so getting off the sauce is gonna be rough, just like it was the last time i fell off the wagon.

i have a couple of projects that i are still outstanding...

1) is the openBSD box outside the firewall. i am waiting to find a nice, quiet little machine that will look attractive on top of my entertainment center before i begin this project in earnest, since i needs to be close to the cable modem. once i get the box, i want to set up web, mail, php, mysql, the whole bit, and guard it with PF, the packet filtering firewall.

2) is a linux terminal server. the only linux distro i can stand anymore is slackware, and getting LTSP going on it has proven difficult. i need to give this project my full attention, and again it is waiting for hardware. i have an old cyrix box that i am currently running slack on, but it is aging and would be better suited as a puter for my daughter.

3) is a windows server 2003. i want to set it up much like i did with NTguy, i just need better hardware and a disk with 2003 on it.

i plan on using some off-lease dell machines for these projects. they will be low end p3's, powerful enough to run the apps, tho weak enough to be affordable.

4) i want to build a nice gaming rig. i have never owned such a thing, so i want one very badly :-) i want to outfit it with lights and all that cool stuff. once i get it built (or at least bootable) that will free up the guts in my current PC for their original purpose, which was to serve as a TV box.

5) speaking of TV boxen. there was a slight change in plans on this project. i have a black TV in my living room, which now has my modded Xbox plugged in to it and is capable of playing all kinds of stuff on it, including video files, so putting a PC under it was somewhat pointless. there is a TV in my bedroom, but it is silver, and it's sitting on a table with no room for components. so if i am to have my PVR system plugged in to a TV and still look cool, i will have to put it in a silver tower case. fortunately directron carries silver boxes and drives.

i figure that the only way i will get all of this done is if i win the lottery.

posted by chris 5:10 PM


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