January 2003 Archives

KDE 3.1 is released. Whee! Big compiler fun today, I think.

Lotsa screenshots, and a changelog relative to 3.0.5 (for the poor Lynx users)

I’m getting somewhat annoyed with the firm that hosts this site. Ever since I switched over to MT, I’ve started paying more attention to the load on the machine — because MT often seems slowish — and it’s somewhat distressing to see a 2way 550 MHz PIII with a load that’s never below 5 (and often above 10). Seems like not quite the level of stuff I’m paying for. The super-locked down environment on the server is also sort of annoying in a petty fascist bullyboy sort of way — like it would hurt to give me an unmunged ‘w’, so that I can see how many other people are on the machine?

If those were the only problems, I’d just be pissing and moaning in my head, and not bothering to post this. Sadly, they’re not. There was some sort of datacenter movement or something this weekend, and ever since that, the Better Half has been unable to get her mail. I’ve had a ticket open on this for almost two days, and haven’t even seen an acknowledgement of the problem. I’m starting to get a bit fed up. As a general principal, I don’t want to put all my eggs in a single basket, so I’m not sure that moving the org domain over to CornerHost is how I want to proceed; maybe I’ll have to throw Pair some business.

What really, really frosts my dangly bits, however, is that I recommended this service to somebody last week, and they’re using it now. Grr.

Update the problem now appears to be “better”, in that mail is flowing (no clue if things were bouncing or accumulating during the outage), but there’s still no response to the trouble ticket.

Fugu is an Open Source GUI SFTP client for OS X. We’ll probably need it sooner or later.

While I was at LinuxWorld, I saw the news that Virginia Heinlein, wife of the late Robert A. Heinlein, had passed on. I noted this with sadness, and raised a glass to her memory later that evening, in a rotating bar high over Manhattan. Al reminded me this morning that I hadn’t blogged this, and that I’d meant to. He also gave me pointers to the LA Times obit (warning: obnoxious registration scheme) and some reminiscences from Jerry Pournelle

Once again, I’m off to the LinuxWorldExpo next week. I’ll have the laptop, and it looks like there’s net access available in my room, so there’s at least the possibility that I’ll post something here — it probably depends on how exciting the show ends up being. I’ll certainly be at least looking at email, so there’s still time to plan a get-together with me, if you’re in New York…

Things that might be useful to investigate:

Siege and JMeter.

Anybody used any of these? Leave a comment.

Several people I work with are sure to be happy that Intel is finally ofering a port of vTune to Linux. Fortunately, since none of them read this, I don’t have to worry about requests to install it for at least a week. 8^)=

Sex shop offers ‘clergy discount’:

To people driving towards the church, the sign reads: “And God said go out into the world and have great sex. God’s gift to women. Amen and amen.”

People leaving the church see: “No need to mail order. Gay videos in stock. Clergy discount. Have good sex. Hallelujah!”

Over at Corante, via Politechbot.

What I want to know is, where’s this “movement” that everybody keeps talking about? I’ve got some money I’d like to send them.

John Le Carré thinks America has gone mad; I don’t see much out there to counter the argument. Even GOP Senate leaders are getting fed up with the current administration’s high-handed ways of doing things. Oh, and Donald “Precious Bodily Fluids” Rumsfeld has decided that our inability to find what we’re looking for means that what we’re looking for is there. (I am not, I repeat, NOT making this shit up; read the story for yourself.) It is starting to look like a serious portion of the top leaders are the country are either (a) convinced the entire electorate is a bunch of idiots, (b) certifably bugfuck, or (c) both.

My money being on (c) fails to engender any sort of warm fuzzy when considering the future.

(First two links from Brig over at EatonWeb.)

Ghu bless Russ Feingold:

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., is planning to introduce a bill on Thursday to halt the Pentagon’s Total Information Awareness program. A representative said on Wednesday that if passed, the legislation would suspend the TIA program until Congress can “review the data-mining issues.”

Makes me want to move to Wisconsin, just so I can vote for him.

I’m in a picture posting mood, and I’m trying to avoid thinking about the Eldred decision for the moment. So, how about some Rose pictures?


Now I’m going to go back to not thinking about the Eldred decision.

Bought a house today.


Former owners are renting it back from us for a month, so it’ll be awhile before any interior pictures are posted. We’re planning on moving in mid-March.

I’m going to be in New York next week (Monday evening-ish until Friday morning-ish) for Linux World Expo. Schedule is looking sort-of tight, and I doubt that I’ll be venturing outside Manhattan, but if anybody who reads here regularly wants to get together for a beer or something, or even just give suggestions about what to do if the meeting turns out to be a big bore, drop a line or leave a comment.

oh my.

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You really have to admire the set-up — Helen Thomas gives Ari Fleischer just enough rope, and then strings him up. And then she keeps right on going! Check this:

MR. FLEISCHER: Helen, if you think that the people of Iraq are in a position to dictate who their dictator is, I don’t think that has been what history has shown.

MS. THOMAS: I think many countries don’t have — people don’t have the decision — including us.

Ah, you really gotta look at the whole thing, though — I didn’t quote the best part…

Did you know that the music industry is quite probably compelled, by law, to give you some money, maybe as much as twenty bucks? Pass it on.

Karsten M. Self sent a really long and detailed message about the ethical and pragmatic reasons for using Free software. It’s really an excellent read. Take this, for example:

Turning this into an analytic tool rather than merely a laundry list, I see the following principles and themes emerging:

  • Worse is better. Many of the successful strategies pitted a slightly inferior, but good enough competitor against a more elegant solution. In all cases, “worse” also tended to: less expensive (on a purchase unit if not on a capabilities basis), more flexible, more modular, and less centrally controlled.
  • Cheaper is better. Reduced cost, or reduced entry cost dominates a more expensive product.
  • Modular is better. Selling pieces to be assembled (or assembling pieces and selling may different products) beats a highly tuned, but single-purpose, system.
  • Decentralized is better. Reducing centralized control, often written as “the right to fork” in free software discussions, means that more ideas can be tried, and that the proving ground for new development is larger. This is critical as the inventor of a new technology never foresees its possible applications. It also means no patent royalties or other licensing restrictions.
  • This dynamic is key to understanding both the rise and the likely fall of the Microsoft PC market. PCs emerged and succeeded as a decentralization tool — they enabled users and broke the stranglehold of the corporate IT fiefdom. Today, Microsoft represents to an greater extent the role of controlling authority, dictating terms under which other actors in the IT market can participate. GNU/Linux and free software offer decentralization and autonomy to hardware, software, and service vendors, as well as end users.
  • Standard is better. Providing a uniform base on which to roll out services tends to increase utility — IBM’s s360, DEC’s minis, Unix, the PC, and GNU/Linux, as well as industry and technology standards such as ASCII, RFCs, etc.

Just go read the whole thing, it’s great.

Does this mean that Gobbles is a black hat now?

(El Reg has a slightly more comprensible version available, if the first llink left you with that not-so-understanding-it feeling.)

Nice article summarizing various benchmarks with HyperThreading turned on and off. Bottom line: it makes some stuff faster.

Given what they say about the 2.4.x scheduler being “naive” (basically, it’s not smart enough to know the difference between a “logical” CPU and a “physical” CPU in an SMP HT system), it would have been nice to see benchmarks from a multi-processor system, in addition to the UP system they used.

I knew for certain that it was going to be a bad day when my stress ball ruptured. Before noon, no less.

But prior to that, before I’d even left the house, I had an inkling that it was going to be a bad day — an inking that started when I saw that “Big Tony” Scalia spent his weekend at a “Religious Freedom Day” gathering, telling people that the courts are getting this whole ‘seperation of church and state’ thing all wrong.

That’s not a “Freedom From Religion” day, by the way — that’s a “Free To Have Any Religion As Long As It’s Monotheistic” day.

Scalia’s current schtick involves advocating a “tyranny of the majority” legislative approach to resolving issues of church and state, which is bitterly ironic, if you really think about the primary reason the Framers brough up the issue in the first place. The comment that “the framers did not intend for God to be stripped from public life” is also seriously disingenous — nobody is saying that religion needs to be removed from public life, just from government-sponsored public life. There certainly didn’t seem to be any probition aganist “Big Tony” shooting his mouth off in front of a crowd down in Fredricksburg this weekend, and it’s harder to imagine something more “public” than a large outdoor rally.

(Tip o’ the PipetMan to Kevin “Ghost In The Machine” Murphy, who I lifted the “Big Tony” thing from.)

geek humor

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Okay, this one has a couple of references in it that you’re not going to get — unless you were one of those snot-nosed junior high kids with the baggie of funny dice and the stack of books. But it’s also got several things that pretty much anybody should find amusing.

Here, go have a look. (Flash4 required, but it’s worth it.)

My goal for the day is to use the phrases “motherless couchfuck” and “god never gives us more FOO” as much as possible. (Hey, it’s a Monday. I try to aim low.)

Update: Link is fixed; I’ve been appropriately chastised about checking things before posting them. Let’s put this ugly episode behind us.

What, am I living under a rock here? Based on the dates on the entries, this stuff is going on a year old — I’m sure it must have hit the weblog world at some point. I’m just a loser, and wasn’t paying attention. Anyway, have a look at True Porn Clerk Stories.

Go on, it’s a sucky Monday and you weren’t really getting that much done anyway.


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The random image on today’s daily dose page is one of my favorites — and I didn’t even take it. TheWife snapped that one, during the bachelorette party of a famous DC-area weblogger.

(That link is marginally work-safe, depending on where you work. Having the wrong person walk up behind you at the wrong moment might be awkward if you work at, oh, say, a church, or something.)

But seeing the picture and writing this entry have reminded me that, here in a couple four or five years, we’re going to have some interesting decisions to make about what content we have where, and how much access we give to the kid…

macos x11

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I installed Apple’s X11 package on my iBook the other night. It’s nice to have a real xterm again — Terminal.app was seriously, seriously slow when dealing with ncurses- or Slang-based CLI applications — like mutt. It’s sort of annoying that it doesn’t use the same keycodes as the MacOS side, however. I’ve got the MacOS set to use a Dvorak keyboard layout, but the X11 stuff comes up in QWERTY. Guess I need to get some paper and start writing out an .xmodmap file…

While we’re on the Two Towers film, Graham mentions being confused by “Aragorn getting thrown into the river’, and asks ‘What was that in aid of?’

My read of that scene is that Jackson is trying to develop a fall of a major character as a thematic element in each of the three films, at about the midway or two-thirds point. In the first film, we have Gandalf getting pulled down by the Balrog; the third film has an obvious candidate that I’ll not explicitly mention, just to avoid potential spoilers — but the second film didn’t really have a good falling scene. So he wrote one in. Each of the three falls has similar aspects — the fallen character lands in water (or, well, liquid, anyway), and the fall is redemptive in some fashion. Gandalf the Grey falls, and rises as Gandalf the White; “Strider” falls (“Strider” is the aspect of Aragorn avoiding his responsibility to be king) and

Aragorn, King of Gondor arises. Again, the redemption in the third fall is of a slightly different nature, but there are other elements of that fall that are different as well — that one is the rock in the Zen garden that’s just slightly out of kilter.

However, I also had about three beers before seeing the movie, so maybe I’m just full of crap.

David Chess wrote a short micro review of The Two Towers film the other day (“it kinda sucked”). Then, the day after that, he shared that a reader had sent some email berating him for using the word “suck” in a pejorative sense. Here’s the mail that David quoted:

Have you thought about what it means when you say that the two towers “sucked”? To me, it says “I didn’t like the movie, and by the way, people who perform oral sex on men are bad.” I think oral sex is positive, so I wouldn’t want to describe something I didn’t like as “sucking”.

First of all, if you’re only sucking while performing oral sex on men, the women in your life are getting seriously short-changed. But that’s really not my point here.

My point here is this: this is a bullshit argument, because it ignores one of the best things about English — the way that context shapes and influences the meaning of what’s actually said. Sometimes when something is “bad”, it’s actually bad — but other times, it’s good — and generally speaking, most native English speakers don’t have a problem distinguishing the actual meaning of “bad” from the context in which it’s used. The expression “fuck me” is another prime example — that can be used as anything from a whispered exclamation of dismay to a husky-throated command to a shout of rage, and the fact that the

first and third of those are often negative situations doesn’t mean that the second isn’t a very, very nice thing to hear, generally speaking.

What I’m arguing for here, I guess, is that we don’t give in to requests that we reduce the expressivity of our writing (and “sucks” is a expressive, albeit greatly overused, word) just because some people are too literal to realize that which meaning of an overloaded word applies in a given situation.

One additional note: this doesn’t excuse the use of overloaded words that have negative connotations in ways that are obviously meant to emphasize that negative connection — see David’s remarks regarding “gay” on that same day, which I’m in total agreement with.

Official TSA Guidlines for traveling with children

ALERT! Babies should NEVER be left in an infant carrier while it goes through the X-ray machine.

Oh, TheBaby is so not flying, for a long time…

Boucher Introduces Fair Use Rights Bill

Boucher’s bill would limit the scope of the prohibition to circumvention for the purpose of copyright infringement. Circumvention for the purpose of exercising fair use rights would be permitted under the legislation. The legislation would also permit the making and distribution of hardware and software if the technology is capable of substantial non-infringing use.

The bill is likely to encounter fierce opposition from the well-funded music and movie industries, which have already spent millions to shut down file swapping sites and view the DMCA as essential to avoiding another Napster-like run on copyrighted material.

“The next step is to build a stronger base in the House and line up support in the Senate,” Boucher said. “I will make a prediction about this legislation: we’re going to pass the bill. I would point out that it took six years to pass the DMCA.”

It’s got a lot of hyperbole, but it also looks like there might be some useful info in “How to disappear in America without a trace” — assuming, that is, that you’ve decided that you really need to get away from it all…


Something I really need to do, when I have time and some spare creativity.

Via snowdeal.org, it’s AlterNet’s AlterNet: Top Ten Conspiracy Theories of 2002. Not recommended for those given to runaway paranoid delusions; by the end of the article, you’ll be expecting the proverbial knock at the door any second…

When I read about Bush’s “economic stimulus” plan yesterday, I was all fired up to come home and write a rant about it, but sort of discouraged, because I’d have to dig up a bunch of supporting info that I didn’t readily have at hand. Luckily, Kevin did most of that stuff for me, so you can just read his post, True Colors Shining Through, instead.

One point that I did want to make is how it seems like the Bush administration isn’t even trying to pretend to care about anybody other than their paymasters anymore. I mean, really, a dividend credit!? You couldn’t read an analysis of the “why the bubble burst” stuff without hearing about how corporations don’t pay dividends anymore, preferring instead to plow that money back into the business.

woo hoo!

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Jon Johansen has been found not guilty. (Also at El Reg.) Take that, ya’ MPAA bastiches.

(Johansen was the Norwegian teenager who developed DeCSS, which lets you play DVDs. Somehow, the MPAA managed to convince Norwegian prosecuters that this helped DVD pirates somehow (it doesn’t). Fortunately, the court didn’t buy it.)

New stuff from William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, and the biggie, the followup to Cryptonomicon. (That last one is still quite a ways off, I imagine, but a boy can dream, can’t he?)

Dynamic DNS Providers List

Right now, I get by on the fact that my ISP rarely changes the IP that they give me when I ask for a DHCP lease — but when they do change it, it fairly well louses up my day. Plus, my life would be incrementally better if I had one less IP to remember. All I need is the time to get it set up and working…

The Mozilla PubMed toolbar certainly looks interesting — is anybody out there using it?

hat tip

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Thanks to Hal and Kevin for the shout-outs. Nice to know the protracted silences and the domain hopping aren’t driving off everybody… 8^)=


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Konstruct is a GAR-based build system for KDE3.1 — like Garnome.

I’m using it to build KDE3.1r6 as I type; I’ll try to remember to post a comment or another entry about how it turns out.

I’m starting to play with the MT templates, trying to get the site to look how I want it to. Have a look at the daily dose page if you want to get an idea of where I’m headed. In the meantime, things might look a bit strange around here as I edit, revise, curse, and revise again…

[ later ]
Well, I think I have the basic form worked out. Now I have to figure out how I’m going to deal with rolling the changes back into the static content portion of the site, and how to keep them reasonably in sync as I tweak things. Plus there are several dozen other templates that I need to tweak too.

Oh yeah, and I need to actually move all the content around. whee!