December 2001 Archives

so, like where the hell have you been, man?
i had some sort of flu-like thing over the weekend, and work was kicking my ass before i up and died, so… anyway, i’ve been feeling sort of uncreative and stupid and not in a writing sort of mood of late, probably because i haven’t been doing any writing, and because i’m totally sick of the tools i have to maintain and update the site. so that’s where i was.

anyway, i think i’m going to pull a graham and attempt some tool construction and site rehabilitation over the holiday period. clearly the first step there is to design a snazzy “reconstruction” splash page, so i’ll get right on that. have a nice holiday; see you on the other side.

Some of it went to a trip to Chicago. More of it went to the fallout around getting ready for the trip and catching back up once I got home. The rest of it, well, who knows.

testing =? brussels sprouts
chromatic had a nice article about testing and Perl over on That reminds me, I should really go back and write some unit tests for my work project…

the way, way back machine
I’m sure you’ve already heard that Google has pushed its Usenet archive back to 1981. Now you can see things like Linus announcing Linux, the birth of the BOFH, or the beginning of the end. A prize to the person who comes up with the oldest post I can verify as mine (ah, the perils of having a common name…)

fork this
When Alan Cox was maintaining his separate kernel tree, you couldn’t hardly think straight for all the muttering about a potential kernel fork. How come nobody is paying any attention to Rik van Riel’s patch set, which (IMHO) has a much better chance of actually causing a split? Oh yeah, that’s right — all the mutterers don’t actually read LKML.

(Note: I still think the chance of a fork is vanishingly small — just less so than it was in the Alan case. It’s still hard to tell if Linus’s VM decision was the right thing or not, and that’s scary.) == print.dead_tree()
Cuz the courts say so.

Today, I found out that a friend’s cat, who I often care for when said friend is away, has lymphoma. That made me feel sad, and lead to me coming home and petting my cats a little bit more than normal.

Today, I found out a co-worker used to ride the bus that got blown up this weekend. (Probably not the bus, but she rode that route, through the spot where the explosion occurred.) That made me feel a frisson, a little “my, how odd to live in a place where things like that happen” jolt — until I realized that I do live in a place where things like that happen.

Today, I found out that this site (or, rather, a page from its archives) comes up 97th in a Yahoo search for “cunt flogging”, which, for some reason, I felt the need to share with you. I know this particular thing because somebody out there in the great wide world, somebody who claimed to come through a dialup IP, searched for that string, hunted through at least two (but more likely five) pages of results, and then choose to click on the link to my site. When I took a break at work today to check my logs, this particular event didn’t make me feel much of anything, other than a desire to get the analog report and those particular 13 letters off my screen before somebody walked into my cube. Now that I think about it a little bit more, I realize (again) that 90% of the search engine traffic in the world would go away if people just knew how HTTP works.

Today, I (and a co-worker) found out that version 2.4.17-pre2 of the Linux kernel + PAE + CSA + iostat + XFS falls over when you run a particular application on it. We need to run that application quite a bit, so it’s good that I (and that co-worker) also found out that 2.4.17-pre2 + PAE doesn’t fall over when running that particular application. That made me feel annoyed, because it would be nice to have the stuff that comes from the “CSA + iostat + XFS” part, but it also made me feel happy, because we’re seeing light at the end of the tunnel we’ve been crawling through. (I realize it’s just a developer with a flashlight crawling back down the tunnel to tell us the spec has changed (again), but give me my illusions for the moment, eh?)

Today, I learned that my species still hasn’t figured out a way to end a primate threat display other than to increase the magnitude and violence of the responses on each side until one group is incapacitated. Since at least one of the tribes of primates in this particular pissing match has nuclear weapons, that made me feel afraid.

Today, I got up at 4:55 am. It’s currently 10:31 pm. These are two of the many reasons why I feel tired, and why I’m going to leave you for the night and hit the sack.

I totally forgot about Link and Think this weekend. I feel like a heel.

Weekend flew by, as usual. Up early today to see The Wife off on yet another business trip. Starting to grow unhappy with the constraints of this blog format (mainly the need to think up titles for everything), but not sure when I’m going to be able to change it to something more of my liking. Coffee good.

that’s IT?
Remember the IT/Ginger hype of just a few short months ago? Today is the big unveiling, on one of those morning shows filled with too chipper plastic people, but since we here at Genehack Light Industries care, here’s a link to a NYTimes article with a picture of the mystery device. (Registration required to use that link, and I’d give you my username and password, but I’ll be buggered if I can remember what they are at the moment, because I just set the cookie and forget, just like everybody else.) There’s a bit more background over at this five-page Time article. US$3k? Uff-dah. All you early adapters run right out and drive that price down, ya hear?

i know a geeky spook
Or maybe he’s a spooky geek. But I digress — Sterling has that effect on me. If you give two hoots about cryptoanarchy, Microsoft, Lessig, information warfare, the National Security Agency, or the national security (and how distinct are those last two, hmm?), you could spend a worse fifteen minutes this morning than reading Viridian Note 00283: Geeks and Spooks. A few choice pull quotes:

The truer and sadder story of crypto was that the spooks and the geeks both beat the hell out of our democratic process, rendering lawyers, consumers, the Congress, the industry, and the Administration totally irrelevant, and leaving crypto as a blasted technical wasteland, in a kind of Afghan-style feud, where every single party was necessarily a crook, or a scofflaw, or a deceiver, or weirdly suspect, and there was no legitimacy, and no common ground, and still, today, no good method to assemble any.
It’s not that islands don’t exist in our Net == Afghanistan is a huge one. But if you’re a geek and you airdrop in with your Linux box to set up an outlaw pirate website in the liberated Pashtun tribal lands, it’ll be about a week before you’re shot. They’ll shoot you for your shoelaces, much less your Pentium.
So where are these imaginary earthshaking geek outlaws who laugh in derision at mere government? Well, they do exist, and they’re in Redmond. The big time in modern outlaw geekdom is definitely Microsoft. The Justice Department can round up all the Al Qaeda guys they can wiretap, but when they went to round up Redmond, they went home limping and sobbing, and without a job. That is a geek fait accompli, it’s a true geek lock-in. In 2001, Microsoft has got its semi-legal code in every box that matters. They make those brown-shoe IBM monopolists of the 1950s look like model public citizens.

Hell, read it because Bruce is a damn good writer, and because there are tons of worse ways to start a working week than with a few thousand well chosen words.

whose future are we living in?
If you gave in to my nudging and read Bruce’s stuff from the entry above, you might think we’re in for some Heavy Weather. You might need to open your ears to some Ribofunk, though, because Japan announced yesterday that they will allow the cloning of human-animal hybrid embryos.

Every now and then, there’s this feeling like whoever is driving the Lincoln Town Car of the Now down the asphalt-paved Turnpike of the Future just goosed the gas, punched it just a little bit, and the fabric of reality sort of bulges with the increased pressure, before the Driver eases off the pedal and we all settle back in for the ride. This has been one of those times.

speaking of bioinformatics
How could I pass up a chance to link to an interview with Nat Torkington and Lorrie LeJeune, co-chairs of the best bioinformatics conference I won’t be going to this year? I just couldn’t.