Well, here it is, the long awaited day of my housewarming party. I’ve got most of the big work done, but there are still plenty of small details to be attended to before the evening, most notably I have to get the fridge in the basement onto a level spot and plugged in, so it can start chilling the five-gallon keg of mead I hope to have tapped during the party. I also realize that I probably should have picked up a spare tank of CO2 so I’d be sure of being able to actually dispense it. Oh well, I’ll figure something out if that becomes a problem.
- Bruce Schneier writes about how we’re Slouching toward Big Brother. Well, some of us keep pointing out the problems with the latest government intrusions, but it doesn’t seem to stem the tide. [jr]
- Veto Threatened on Bill to Restrict Powers Under Terrorism Law, as John Ashcroft says that President Bush will veto the bill, which hasn’t even gotten out of committee yet. If a guy were a suspicious sort, he might wonder what about the bill has the administration so worried. It’s also interesting that Bush hasn’t vetoed any spending bills to try and keep government spending in control.
- Drug law’s costs swell by a third less than two months after making the new health-care thingie into law. But hey, President Bush is controlling spending, y’know. [press-patch]
- At least government’s busy solving the really important problems: FTC proposes label for porn e-mail because
17 percent of pornographic offers contained images of nudity that appeared whether a recipient wanted to see them or not.Excuse me? I see zero images in my email because I don’t want to see them. Reconfigure your email program or spam-filter if you don’t want to see naked people in your email. Sheesh. [jr]
- Uncle Patrick’s Advice to Children contains such gems as
The rash won’t go away on its own.
Head wounds do tend to bleed a lot. Don’t panic.and
You better ask before you try and stick your finger up there.But the most depressing is the one that says
Dungeons and Dragons never goes away. Girls will still sense that shit 20 years later.I fear that’s true, and I’m starting to think it’s more than twenty. [accordionguy]
- As I approach my 40th birthday, I look at things like this list of 50 things to do before you’re 30 and wonder to myself. I got twenty-four of the fifty, and I’m pretty sure over twenty of those were before I was thirty. Sigh. [holy schmoly]
- Thanks to Kim du Toit I went to create my own state map of the states I’ve been to. Note that I’ve gotten to all of them except Ohio at least once via ground-transport, which explains the lack of gaps. And as I continue to ponder taking a vacation, the map seems to suggest that driving down to Florida might not be the worst plan in the world. With some not-too-creative routing, I could knock off another dozen states.
Not much here today. Something to do with the three-for-one beer deal last night, perhaps.
- Notes From the Underground explains
what the ailing record industry can learn from a successful subway musician.According to what he sees, $5 is what people will pay for a CD from a musician they’ve never heard before. That sounds about right to me. I’ll generally go to $7.99 in the bargain bin, even. More than that, and I have to be able to hear more than a 30-second clip of the music before I’ll decide to plunk down my dollars. [accordionguy]
- Over at Boing Boing, Cory has a modest proposal for non-evil social services. Meanwhile, jr’s into Anti-Social Networking. I dunno. I think I like jr’s idea better, but maybe that’s just because Cory doesn’t read me. [boing boing]
- Pixar to End Talks with Disney! Woo! The bugz are finally free of the bondage of the mouse! [jr]
- Minnesotans grin and bear cold spell, as yesterday’s high only got to 8 below. We’ve been fresh out of Fahrenheits for a while. Even the heavily salted puddles in my garage froze yesterday. [press-patch]
- Here are some Simple Tricks for More Usable Forms on websites. Guess I should probably work on implementing some of them. [holy schmoly]
- Deja Vu is re-creating web history, with an emulator that will show you how your favorite website would have looked in Mosaic. And you know what? Dave’s Picks degrades just the way I hoped it would. [flutterby]
- The Twins Geek has an Interview with Terry Ryan (Part I). The first day’s post just touches some background information, but the rest of it looks promising. And it’s cool that he could get the interview with Ryan in the first place.
- Hmm. Here’s the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace saying (back in 2002) that Iraq
almost certainly does have large numbers of chemical weapons and some biological weapons or agents.The report’s by Joseph Cirincione who wrote the latest Carnegie report blasting intelligence agencies for
a massive intelligence failure.[instapundit]
- Ex-Arms Monitor Urges an Inquiry on Iraqi Threat, and now it appears that President Bush is going to get heat for listening to the U.N. too much (or rather for the fact that he gave credence to intelligence from the U.N. inspectors).
Saddam Hussein developed and used weapons of mass destruction. He used them against the Iranians and the Kurds. U.N. inspectors found enormous quantities of banned chemical and biological weapons in Iraq in the 90’s. We know that Saddam Hussein had once a very active nuclear program. He realized and had ambitions to develop and use weapons of mass destruction.
- In the PM statement on Hutton report, Tony Blair’s fighting back against charges that he lied about WMDs:
I’d like to see as clear a statement come out of the White House. [instapundit]
The allegation that I or anyone else lied to this House or deliberately misled the country by falsifying intelligence on WMD is itself the real lie. And I simply ask that those that made it and those who have repeated it over all these months, now withdraw it, fully, openly and clearly.
I’ve had a few readers comment that they aren’t thrilled by me talking about Bush and WMDs. Well, that’s understandable. Few people are going to change their opinions about the situation. But there are too many evenings in the bar when I hear the refrain of
Bush Lied! and I think that people need to look at some of the facts behind that. It’s pretty clear that Saddam Hussein had biological and chemical weapons at some point, and it’s also pretty clear that one of the reasons given for attacking Iraq was because of the fear of those weapons. I don’t think a reasonable person could argue either of those facts, and yet some seemingly reasonable people still do.
I think that the weapons of mass destruction (a horrible name) weren’t the primary reason for attacking Iraq, they were a convenient (and UN-provided) excuse. I don’t think the excuse was needed, but it’s a lot easier (politically and diplomatically) to say
We attacked Saddam Hussein to remove his capability to use WMDs than it is to say what I think was the real reason:
We attacked Saddam Hussein to drag the Middle East kicking and screaming into the 21st century since that latter wouldn’t go over very well.
We’re still seeing how things will play out, but if there ends up being some real change in the Middle East, I think that will be a good thing. I don’t expect to change a lot of people overnight, but I also don’t think the vast majority of people there need changing. Just the ones who want to use weapons of terror against the U.S. They need to have it explained to them that that sort of behavior just won’t be tolerated. I think overthrowing the Taliban and Baath Party explains that fairly effectively. What remains is sorting out the unteachable. That’s probably going to prove pretty difficult, as years of experience in Israel has shown.
If you want a slightly different way of presenting almost the same views, Mitch Berg’s The Big Mean World Awareness Test might be fun for you.
More shovelling yesterday. I cleaned out some of the area in front of my garage. Initially I was just going to shovel out enough space so I could set out the trash and an old dishwasher, but realized that I should clear the path for my car, so I wouldn’t end up with an ice-patch right where I need traction in order to pull into the garage. In the course of shovelling, I met a neighbor across the alley and talked to him until we’d both cooled down. Then I later met the neighbor’s son who finished clearing the area between our garages. I guess the upside of the snowfall is that it gets many of us outside at about the same time in the winter, so I won’t have to wait until spring to meet everyone who lives near me.
- Rule Change May Alter Strip-Mine Fight. The current rule prohibits mining operations within 100 feet of a stream, which prevents coal companies from strip-mining a mountaintop and dumping it all into valleys and hollers in Appalachia. The Bush administration wants to do away with the rule, which would allow mining companies to turn Appalachia into a plain, which doesn’t seem right.
- In this article by David Kopel on Gun Laws, he explains how a recently passed law requires the federal government to destroy NICS records within 24 hours, which rolls back some of the abuses implemented during the Clinton years. [instapundit]
- IBM patents method for paying open source volunteers, which sounds good at first, until you stop to wonder how anyone who isn’t Big Blue is going to pay open source programmers.
- MUDDA is the Magnificent Union of Digitally Downloading Artists, and was founded by Peter Gabriel and Brian Eno. It’s a musicians union which hopes to wrest control of music from the labels. [boing boing]
- In this interview with Linus Torvalds, he explains why SCO is
Just Too Wrongabout owning bits of Linux, comparing SCO to a rabid cornered rat. Meanwhile, SCO is offering a quarter-million dollars to find the source of the recent virus, which is set to target their servers this coming Sunday.
- Dean should come clean on privacy, but that would mean admitting that he wants a national ID card which would be required to
log on to the Internet, which would make it tough for him to position himself as the left-libertarian that’s so attractive to many of his followers. [flutterby]
- Snow falls statewide on Sunday and yesterday, leading to four traffic fatalities from people running into things. Other than that and some traffic slowdowns, it seems to have gone pretty smoothly. Of course, I stayed pretty close to home, and when I went out to lunch yesterday, I did so by bus (mostly because I didn’t feel like walking the unshovelled sidewalks between here and Dinkytown). I also had to shovel my sidewalks a few times during the day. I need new sidewalks, though. The current ones are so uneven that shovelling them is a lot more work than it should be. One more item for the to-do list. [press-patch]
- Fans storm palace gates as the Ice Palace set a record for attendance on Saturday. The article has tips if you’re going to visit this weekend. [press-patch]
- Morgan Spurlock is now an arch enemy of fast food, after spending 30 days eating nothing but McDonald’s food and having his health deteriorate to an alarming degree. I saw many people pointing to this saying how horrible McDonald’s is for you, but my take is a little different (I know, it’s hard to believe). I think he’s just one of those delicate sorts who probably would have died from eating a normal diet in older days. As it is, with all the conveniences of modern society, he’s able to pamper his delicate constitution and stay alive. He’s forgotten that humans are omnivores, and as such has to limit his diet. Besides, if he’d eaten McDonald’s for a month and stayed healthy, it wouldn’t have made for much of a movie, now would it? [boing boing]
- Plans for Wireless Directory Raise Concerns About Privacy, but more importantly, cell-phone numbers will be listed just as landlines currently are, complete with all the same crap that comes with a landline.
- Part of Patriot Act Ruled Unconstitutional, specifically a section of the USA Patriot Act that bars giving expert advice or assistance to groups designated foreign terrorist organizations was ruled impermissably vague.
- Supreme Court Reaffirms Miranda Ruling 9-0. That’s nice to hear. [instapundit]
- Finally, Calpundit offers The WMD Hunt… A Real Explanation at Last? It makes some sense to me.
On the home-improvement front, I think I have all the new phone wiring done. All that remains there is to unhook some of the older wires, put new ends on them, and connect them through the junction-box I’ve set up in the basement. I also got the shelf hung on the wall, so I can move the networking hardware into the basement, and I think I’ve got all the ethernet in place. I’ve got a new doorbell button for the front door (the old one works, but you have to really mash it, and most people don’t) and hooking that up (probably tomorrow) should complete the low-voltage wiring work.
I’m also planning an evening of furniture-shuffling later this week. I’m aiming to both get things ready for the housewarming party on Saturday and get close to a layout I can live with in the long-run. As in any game of sokoban, I have to get some other stuff out of the way first, but it was time to haul out some of those boxes filled with the packing paper from the move anyhow, and with recycling day being tomorrow, I’ll have some hauling to do this evening.
Yesterday I had planned to drive up to mom’s for dinner. In fact, I even got halfway there, but that’s when I ran into some weather problems. When I left home, the weather was pretty good, but when I got past Forest Lake on the freeway, suddenly I was in blowing snow that made driving pretty hairy. I called mom, and the snow was coming down even harder at her place, and she told me to turn around and head home.
On the way back, it seemed as though the line where the snow started really hadn’t moved much. Not too surprising since very little time had passed, but when I got home and looked at the weather radar, there was a C-shaped loop of snow around Minneapolis. And as I looked out the window during the day, that continued until after I went to bed. Looking back at the radar archive (there’s the reason I have that weather link at the bottom of each day), I noticed that it wasn’t until about 11PM that the snow had finally reached Minneapolis, even though mom continued getting snowed on the entire time.
Anyway, I guess one of my tasks this morning is going to be heading outside and shoveling the couple inches that fell here. There’s supposed to be more during the day, but I’ve found that getting out there first thing in the morning helps a lot since it keeps any overnight accumulation from getting packed down into ice by people walking to work or school in the morning. Just one more joy of being a homeowner.
- Inspector Says WMD Are Vaporware, or rather that there was no new WMD development in Iraq after the 1991 war. There’s also growing evidence of an array of vendors of WMD technology, and a growing admission that some earlier intelligence reports may have overestimated the ability of Iraq to continue developing WMD. But in an interesting devlopment from last week, David Kay also said that Saddam's WMD hidden in Syria. So perhaps the reason they can’t be found in Iraq is that they were moved over the border. But that story seems to be getting a lot less press. [instapundit]
- Sp@m ShEn@nig@nS!!: That Gibberish in Your In-Box May Be Good News as it points out how desperate spammers are to try and slip something (even if it’s nonsense) past ever-improving filters.
- With This Law, You Can Spam, and that’s got a number of people criticizing the CAN-SPAM act. At this point, I don’t think the governement will be any more able to stop spam than they have been able to stop telemarketers or junk faxes. Any solution we see will probably be technological.
- Here’s a good (and long) look at The Tyranny of Copyright by the New York Times. I don't have an answer to all the problems, but I think that the current copyright term of “as long as Disney wants” is too long. Heck, a fourteen year copyright on Mead Made Easy would be plenty for me.
- Linux Code Red is a good explanation of the whole problem with the “new SCO” (as opposed to the group who actually wrote some Unix code) and gives some background about Darl McBride. There’s also explanation of why SCO thinks they deserve money from people using Linux, and why just about everyone else believes SCO is either lying or confused. [slashdot]
- Dave’s link to the discussion at Scott McGerik’s post on the Keys got me looking around a bit. I stumbled onto Gonzo Food Critics (
under constructionsince soemtime before the turn of the millenium), but their list of the Worst Restaurants in Minneapolis is worth a read. [jim]
- Dave invited us to smack penguins yesterday, but I wonder if he even knew about the drug enhanced version. [jim]
- Joe Soucheray Can’t get away from stadium fight. It’s not surprising that Stenglein has taken the lead in fighting for a Minneapolis location for the stadium. Plus, after going to the Ice Palace yesterday, I’m not surprised that people think parking in St. Paul will be a problem. A well-attended game will be a lot more people than were there yesterday, and parking and traffic were pretty much a mess all afternoon. [press-patch]
Yesterday I went over to wander around the Ice Palace. Ran into a couple ex-neighbors in line and we talked while winding our way into the gates and gabbed a bit, but nothing worth blogging about. Since I’m light on links today, I’ll try and make up for it with pictures, I guess.
A few notes about visiting the Ice Palace:
- If you’re coming from anywhere west of downtown St. Paul, the best parking is at the History Center. While you’re there, you can look around the museum too, if that interests you. Also remember to ask for the coupons at the parking lot entrance.
- Be careful when you’re walking around. There’s ice on the ground, and this seemed to surprise many people.
- Remember that it’s outside and winter in Minnesota. It might be cold.
- Best time to visit is before noon. The crowds pick up a lot after lunch, and the sun on the Ice Palace looks pretty spiffy walking down the hill from the History Center in the morning hours.
- Remember that you’ll need $5 for parking and $5 for entrance.
- There are unofficial people selling tickets, too. I got my ticket for $4.68 because I’d forgotten about the previous and was a tiny bit short on cash. Plus I got to avoid one line.
- I haven’t been by in the evening yet, but the light-shows are supposed to be pretty cool. Going a second time means buying a second ticket.
- Don’t expect the ice on the skating rink to be in good shape. There was no zamboni around.
- If you see one of the tradesmen wandering around, thank them for their volunteered time. Over fifty-five thousand hours were donated for the construction, and many more hours are still being donated to keep things running smoothly.
- Don’t go out of your way to thank a foreman. They got paid to sit on their butts watching the volunteers work.
|The Long Line to Get In|
|Ice Palace and Cathedral|
|The Courtyard 2|
|Ice Sculptures of King Boreas & a Horse|
|The Queen of Snows?|
|Detail of the Exits|
Oops. I almost forgot that today is the twentieth birthday of Macintosh. That would have been bad.
I find myself awake reasonably early on a Saturday, with a long list of items that need doing, but nothing that really wants doing, if you see the difference. In fact, I’ve been slacking pretty hard (oxymoron alert?) the past couple days, and think today might be a good day for some recreation, rather than trying to get things done. Maybe a trip to the Ice Palace or something…
Yesterday morning, just after the daily blogging, I headed outside to shovel the sidewalks. It was nice, since there were a couple inches of light, fluffy snow, and I made it outside before anyone had tramped it down. I got to talk to a neighbor gal from two houses north of me. I’m slowly meeting the neighbors, and they all seem like fairly nice folks so far.
I also got the invitations for the housewarming sent out, which involved buying a new ink cartridge for the printer. Ugh. I did a greyscale design, figuring that I could print that with black-ink only, but my printer insisted on doing some of the greys with colored ink. Rather than redesign, it was easier to just go buy the color cartridge.
My other big accomplishment yesterday was catching up on some sleep. I didn’t realize how tired I was in the morning, but after eating some lunch, I decided I needed a nap. Five hours later I woke up, feeling fairly refreshed. Wow. The strangest part is that it didn’t screw up my sleep schedule last night at all. I went to bed about the normal time, and woke up about the normal time this morning. I guess I just needed some extra down-time. Yeah, it means that not as much work got done as probably should have, but I’m not going to worry about that just now. Monday will come soon enough.
- Scott McGerik’s post on Keys Cafe from earlier this month has turned into a discussion of where to eat breakfast in Minneapolis. So far, nobody’s suggested the perfect breakfast place, so if you’ve got good ideas, head over there and make many people happy by suggesting a good place.
- Perhaps you’d like to treat yourself to a little penguin smackin’? I think you probably should. I got 310 or so on my best shot, but the pop-up where the pengy stuck in the snow beak-first was probably most amusing. [accordionguy]
- zipdecode is a cool Java applet that shows you visually how zip codes are organized. Just type the digits of a zip code, and watch the area covered get smaller. [boing boing]
- Jim stumbled onto this Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer duet of Bob Marley’s Redemption Song. Cool. More at the Cash website (click the music link). [jim]
- Nerds with far too much time on their hands. Dean Goes Nuts dot Com. [jim]
- The Lisp2Perl compiler lets you use perl regexps and such in lisp. I’m not sure whether the lisp folks or perl folks are going to be more appalled by this, but if ever you wanted a programming language in which to do write-only programming, this might be the one for you! [ntk]
- Andy Hertzfeld is collecting Folklore of the early Macintosh. That’s a nice project, and there’s already plenty of fascinating history there. [scottk]
It was one month ago today that I moved in here. Seems longer somehow.
- Are these blink-powered night vision contact lenses for real? Well, the design has been done, and if you’re willing to smear magentic paste on your eyelids, I guess it might work, but there probably isn’t going to be anyone selling them real soon. [fark!]
- Here’s a handy list of Ten Mistakes Writers Don’t See (But Can Easily Fix When They Do) . It’s worth looking at periodically in an attempt to improve my writing. [holy schmoly]
- 532 More Suits Filed Vs. Music Downloaders by the RIAA. An interesting nugget in the story is that their average settlement so far has been $3000 per person they’ve sued. [fark!]
- Study confirms sleep essential for creativity, which maybe explains why I’ve been a little grouchier than usual lately. I’ve been averaging six hours a night instead of eight, and I haven’t been getting my mid-afternoon naps, either. Not sure what exactly I can do about it, though. I’m just waking up too early, and I don’t seem to go back to sleep if I stay in bed. [boing boing]
- Bush wants Patriot Act renewed, and the Democratic candidates seem to be relatively happy with it, too. Bad politicians! No vote! [scripting]
- I’m having a house-warming party on Saturday, January 31 (a week from tomorrow). If you don’t receive an invitation via email sometime today (I’ll be working on the email after I post this), and you’d like to show up at a swell party in Minneapolis, drop me a note and I’ll send you the details. Update: I’ve sent the invites. If you haven’t gotten one via email, it probably means I’ve had a brain-spasm and forgotten you, or don’t have your email address, so send that note. I also sent out a handful of invites via snail-mail.
The big news on the home front for this morning is that today is the first day with my new shower. Woo! No longer will I have to put up with the shower-on-a-hose which provided little more water than standing out in the rain, but instead I’ve got a real shower head, mounted on the wall that seems to provide a decent stream of water. It’s odd, but that cheers me quite a bit. The thousand dollars I spent on having a plumber do it hurts a bit, but realistically, it wasn’t the kind of thing I was going to get done anytime soon myself, and it was bugging me every single morning, so looking at the price that way, it’s not too unreasonable.
Also of note is that I finally got all the boxes in the living room (well, except for the three (three? yes, that many) boxes of miscellaneous computer stuff) unpacked or moved into the basement. It cleared a lot of space in the middle of the room and makes it easier to see how the room might look when I push the furniture around a bit in order to get things arranged in a way that makes more sense to me. Another small step towards making my house a home, but those steps have been adding up, and it feels like home before I hit the one-month mark of living here (which will be tomorrow). I still need to figure out where the rest of the computer equipment (mostly the scanner, and a couple printers) is going to live so I can pull the relevant bits out of those boxes, but I might have a plan for that, thanks to Steph stopping by to
play paper-dolls with my house yesterday evening. Thanks!
- Tonight is St. Paul’s night to shine, as the Winter Carnival begins with the lighting of the Ice Palace. The neat thing about this year’s ice palace is that you’ll be able to walk through it. And while you’re there, you can check your email or upload your pretty pictures on the free wireless they’ll be offering. [press-patch]
- This website mixmaster takes the layout of one website and merges it with the content of another. Spiffy if you can get through to it, but it seems they may be a mite busy at the moment. [boing boing]
- Throw google and friendster into a blender, and what do you get? Well, Eurekster claims you get their
personal search engine. [boing boing]
- Topix.net is news organized by topic and location so you can get just your local news, but from news sources from around the world. Spiffy! [holy schmoly]
Strategic errors in reporting
And now into the longer rant for the day… I’ve had a chance to read the paper Bounding the Global War on Terrorism which
says the invasion of Iraq was a and while I’m not going to try and argue with Jeffrey Record (at least not today), who wrote the paper, I might have some issues with Bob Johnson, who wrote the AP article about it. Reading it, I see where Mr. Record says that the invasion of Iraq was a distraction from the global war on terror, but in spite of the quotes in the headline and body of the article, the exact quote is:
Of particular concern has been the conflation of al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq as a single, undifferentiated terrorist threat. This was a strategic error of the first order because it ignored critical differences between the two in character, threat level, and susceptibility to U.S. deterrence and military action.
What that says to me is that equating al-Qaeda and Saddam is an error, and saying that they’re a single threat is also an error. It also says that the invasion of Iraq was a
distraction from the global war on terror but the paper never says that the invasion of Iraq was a
Strategically, Operation IRAQI FREEDOM was not part of the GWOT; rather, it was a war-of-choice distraction from the war of necessity against al-Qaeda.
But as I've mentioned here before, there was intelligence that there were biological and chemical weapons in Iraq (just ask the Kurds), and that Saddam Hussein was planning to sell some to Al-Qaeda. Whether that intelligence was right or not, it was deemed credible enough that Bill Clinton thought reining in Saddam would be a good thing back in 1998.
The headline also implies that it’s the Army War College saying this. But right there on page ii of the paper it says:
The views expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.
That standard boilerplate says to me that it’s a paper written by someone at the Army War College, but doesn’t necessarily reflect the college’s views. As it turns out, Jeffrey Record’s a visiting professor there, and not even part of the permanent staff.
Regardless what you think of the paper, the article talking about it is misleading, as is the headline. I definitely disagree with the conclusions of the article, and that’s all that most people read (if they even got past the headline), rather than digging more deeply to find out what the paper that’s cited actually says. As Paul Harvey says
…and that’s the rest of the story.
A few folks I know have been thinking about their jobs and trying to decide whether to stick it out at a company they don’t especially like, or move on to something else.
That’s obviously a big decision and one on which you probably shouldn’t take casual advice from someone who can’t even spell "Palm" correctly (yeah, I’ve left the typo from yesterday in place), but when I think about my career, there have been three big transitions. The first was when I decided to quit being an intern for big companies and bail on the computer business for a year and a half to go drive school bus. The second was when I packed up my life and moved from MN to CA to work for Apple for a year. And the third was when my group got laid off at WAM!NET and I took the opportunity to start my own business.
When I took time off to drive bus, I was intentionally turning my back on computers for a while. But another part of what I was doing was admitting to myself that I wasn’t ever going to finish my Bachelor’s degree, and needed to quit getting hired as an "intern". When I took a job at LaserMaster again, I’d bought a Macintosh and was busy teaching myself programming on the Mac. I learned how to do technical support over the phone, and more importantly, learned what kinds of problems real customers have before I started doing any real programming on LM’s products. That was more of an education than most people get out of four years of college, at least in my eyes.
When I went to Apple, I ended up in support again, but this time developer support. I learned a ton about programming the Mac in that year, since I had to figure out how to solve other people’s problems, usually a few per day. Again, I got a huge education, and again I doubled my salary.
My third big change was starting my own business. In the four years since I’ve done that, I’ve gotten a huge education again. This time it’s been less in technical areas and more in fuzzier stuff I’d avoided in the past. I didn’t pump up my salary, but I’m doing more work that I actually like, and I’m not sure what kind of price-tag to put on that.
I guess where this is all going is two ideas. The first is that sometimes you have to make a change in your career in order to get ahead. The second is that when you do make a change, there’s often an opportunity to learn more than you expected, and that education can set you up for the next change. If I hadn’t started learning the Mac while I was driving bus, I never would have been able to get hired at Apple. If I made a good name for myself at Apple, I probably wouldn’t have been able to make my own business work. Working at a number of differently mis-managed companies didn’t hurt either, but I don’t think the education I’ve gotten (and am still getting) from that has paid off yet.
- Bush warns, rallies nation in the State of the Union address and loses any hope of getting my vote. Between taking away personal freedoms with USA-PATRIOT, to taking away our economic freedom by increasing government spending faster than any previous president, he’s not behaving much like a Republican. Heck, just his prescription-drug plan and the new job-training plan he announced last night are enough to break the bank by themselves. The Democratic candidates aren’t much better, and the Libertarians are still dominated by people wanting to line their own pockets. I’m starting to think that this blog hates everyone, too. Is it too late to hope for some candidate who would speak out for freedom? [press-patch]
- Mitch’s comments on the State of the Union are probably more positive, but then again he’s never seemed very concerned about personal freedom.
- Army War College article says invasion of Iraq was
strategic error. I’ve been waiting to see if they’d actually post the original article so I could read that, but it appears as though they aren’t going to. Drat. Update: An anonymous reader points out that the paper is here. I’ll probably have more to say once I’ve read it. [jim]
- Jim has comments at The Usual Suspects regarding the
compromiseon FCC media ownership rules. [jim]
Well, my plan to try and be pro-active about work yesteday fizzled a bit. Got hit with another fire-drill that derailed part of the day. But I’m going to try again today. The difference in my mental state is big enough that I’ve realized I need to take control of the work I’m doing. I wouldn’t be surprised if that causes some friction, but the alternative isn’t very palatable.
In a follow-up to the “my mac has insomnia” tale, I moved the cradle for my Samsung i500 Plam-Phone to a USB hub, rather than having it plugged directly into the computer and disabled Stuffit AVR and the problem went away (yes, I’m running 8.0.2, and wasn’t seeing kernel panics, but I still am suspicious of their software). No idea which of the two was the culprit, and I don’t really care at this point, since my computer will now sleep through the night.
- Going Upstream to Fight Spam sounds like a good idea at first, but I have to wonder how it’s going to affect people who fall between the cracks like me. I’m not really an ISP, but I’m running a mailserver for personal use. I guess if it’s easy to get my server whitelisted, I’ll be fine, but if there are too many hoops to jump through…
- Meanwhile, expect email to suck today as more people get back to their offices, check their email and discover a New Worm Attacks Windows Computers and spreads via email. Ugh.
- Says here that going to work when you’re sick is Ill advised because you’ll get other people sick. It’s sad that this is news. It oughta just be common sense. [press-patch]
- Other nations zip by USA in high-speed Net race, for a variety of reasons, but it mostly seems to be that their governments are subsidizing broadband, and the US is so spread out and had an existing phone system that needs to be replaced in many places in order to provide broadband service.
Well, it’s back to work for the week. I think I’m starting to get the chaos around the house in hand a bit. Stringing the network and phone wires over the weekend helped a bunch. It’s a change to the house that’s going to be reasonably permanent that I made. That breaks a mental barrier of some sort, as did getting out the drill and putting (well, putting back) a hole in the living room floor where the network wire comes through. As Bill said at the time,
It’s yours now.
Today I need to get out and get some more phone connectors and wire. I was initially thinking I’d string cat-5 everywhere and use the wires I needed for phones and such, but I think I’m going to scale back on that plan and use real phone-line for the phones. If I install regular telephone wires for the phones, I won’t have any compatibility problems at the ends, and I’ll still have spare wires. It’ll be cheaper wire than cat-5, plus it’ll be visually unique down in the basement, which I think will help in organizing all the wires that are going to be coming to the junction boxes for the phone and network connections. I’m figuring this out as I go, but that seems like the right decision to make today.
The other mental hurdle that got jumped this weekend is that I’ve quit concentrating on “unpacking” and started thinking more about ways I need to change the house. I’ve got the essentials mostly unpacked (at least until spring), now I want to get changes made before I worry about unpacking all the boxes. From here on, when I unpack a box, I’d like to have a semi-permanent location for the stuff that comes out of the box – a place where the things belong – rather than making a pile and telling myself I’ll sort it out later.
But the main focus today is going to have to be on paying work. That’s also new here, since it’s the first time I haven’t been reacting to demands from a client, but am instead doing the work I know needs doing, and planning more than a couple hourse into the future. It’s how I like to work, but part of the reason this past month has felt so hectic is that I wasn’t planning my work, but rather just trying to keep my head above water. I’m making a conscious decision to change that today. Wish me luck.
- One of the things about blogging is knowing What You Can’t Say. In the case of this essay, it talks about things that are politically incorrect. I’ve seen a couple bloggers face personal consequences as a result of things they’ve posted. In some cases, the posts seemed innocuous to me, but more often, I found myself thinking
shouldn’t have said that out loud.As ever, the guideline around here is pretty much
If I’d tell it to you in a bar over a beer, it’s probably okay for the blogbut that’s probably more a reflection of what I won’t say over a beer than of anything else.
- Bob Mould has a blog. Huh! I think I’d have more fun with a blog by Grant, but that’s mostly because I know him better. [emptybottle]
- As Iowans have their say today, remember this thought: The most dangerous special interest group in Washington is politicians.
- Here’s an explanation of BSD for Linux users.
BSD is designed. Linux is grown. Perhaps that’s the only succinct way to describe it, and possibly the most correct.One of the interesting things is that while people tend to look at the BSD world as “fragmented” because there are three variants, nobody seems to think the same of the Linux world, even though there are a half-dozen distributions which don’t all behave identically.
- Here’s a handy explanation of Palm OS Device Resets. Do you know the three ways to reset your palm device and why you’d want to use each one? [boing boing]
- 40-hour week eludes millions of workers. I think 30 or 32 is the way it should be, but the great
productivity gainslately seem to be more due to increasing the hours worked rather than by more efficient work, so cutting back on the work week would probably cause some sort of economic meltdown. [fark!]
Good day yesterday. I got to lounge around in the morning doing basically nothing. In the afternoon, Bill and I strung a couple cables, one for phone and one for ethernet. The phone cable works fine, and I expect the ethernet will too, but I haven’t tested it yet, since I need to get some power near the basement end of that line to run the devices that’ll be living down there. Then it was off to BW-3 HarMar for the PeTA gathering, where much fun was had, along with more than a couple beers. My head’s a little fuzzy this morning, but it was worth it.
In other news, my Macintosh is puzzling me. It wakes up for no apparent reason after I’ve put it to sleep, even if I disconnect all the USB devices. The system log tells me it’s getting woken up by a keyboard event. I suspect there’s something that was installed along with Stuffit Deluxe 8.0 that’s screwing up my system, but I’m not sure. I am sure that I don’t like it.
- Novell’s Unique Legal Rights has a list of all their correspondence with SCO and Novell’s copyright registrations.
- Rights issue dogs CD protection, since the
CDshave two copies of each song on them (one normal, and one WMA version), and the label has to pay the artist twice for the songs on the CD.
- RIAA posing as cops, raiding street vendors in teams of black-vested thugs. And they have legal authority to do this how? Then again with the former head of BATF now in charge of their anti-piracy SWAT team, it’s no surprise they’re paying no attention to the law. [fark!]
- Our friend Kari Tauring now has music available for download on iTunes. Pretty cool, though I’m sure she would’ve preferred it if A Yuletide Celebration had been available there before the solstice. Still, it’s pretty cool. [jim]
- In This Blog Apparently Hates Everyone, Evan discusses the 2004 elections. Aside from him not seeming to realize that the Libertarian Party exists (as far as I can tell) only to keep Harry Browne and his cronies rolling in money, it’s a pretty good (if dark) look at the political landscape. His previous article, Marketwatch is another way to look at politics. And tomorrow will be the Iowa caucuses. I don't expect to have much to say about the various Democratic Party primaries, but it's interesting watching other people get worked up about it. [101-280]
Yesterday afternoon I went to Dinkytown for lunch. I had to stop by the bank and post office, so the walk was worthwhile, and it turned out pretty well, too. Here’s the story. Lunch was at Burrito Loco. I needed to pick up a menu so I can order delivery, and got an urge for what passes for Mexican food here in MN. For the uninitiated, they’re an awful lot like Chipotle, including having the corn salsa now.
After lunch, I stopped by Dinkytown news and shopped for a magazine to read, and talked to Indra Patel, the owner. He says at the rate things are going, he may have to close the doors next summer. Apparently too many people are doing their reading on some interweb thing, and between that and the increased competition from the University of Minnesota Bookstore in Coffman Union, he’s not selling enough to pay the rent. So if you tend to read obscure magazines, stop in sometime and help him out by buying something.
With my magazine in hand, I swung over to the Purple Onion to do a bit of reading. As I was ordering, I ran into Gordon, who I haven’t talked to for a couple years. We caught up on recent happenings, talked baseball (pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers on February 22nd, you know), and basically hung out for a couple hours. A very enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.
Then after getting home and setting up the DVD and VCR (I continue to slowly make progress on the house), Gordon called me from Clean Water Action. Apparently I came up on the list for him to canvass. It was pretty funny listening to him try to give the regular spiel after we spent a couple hours hanging out yakking this afternoon.
Yesterday I mentioned I’d updated the blogroll over there on the right. Today I explain what exactly happened. First step was checking out the various blogrolling sites out there. I looked at blogrolling.com first. It’s flexible in that it’ll let you link to any damn site, whether it’s something tracked or not. Which means if you get a slightly different URL than the one that’s being tracked, the site will never show as updated.
Next up, blo.gs. I built a list there, and spent some time customizing the names I wanted displayed on things. Works fine on their site, but that doesn’t make it through to the HTML feed they’ll let me at. Feh.
So I grabbed Phil Ringnalda’s PHP blogroll. It needed a little massaging to make it fit in with the rest of my PHP (I understand why people just use echo for output, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it because that makes it a bitch to integrate the output with a site that uses templates), and while I was at it, I added some extra code to do the name-replacement.
Slap an extra call or two into the main-line site-rendering code, and there it is. There are still some kinks to be worked out, but they’re mostly due to people who don’t ping weblogs.com when they update. I’ll end up either applying a little social engineering or just writing a script that checks their site manually and then does the ping for ’em. What the hell, eh?
That’s enough rambling, I think. Time for some linkage.
- Kodak to stop selling traditional cameras , but they’re still going to sell film and one-time-use cameras. [fark!]
- U.S. Consumer Debt Grows at Alarming Rate, topping $2 trillion for the first time, and over $9 trillion when you add in mortgages. That spells trouble if interest rates go up, as they’re likely to do so sooner or later. But it looks like it’ll probably be later, since they actually dropped recently.
- Rivals line up for stadium showdown. Just giving it a quick look, Eden Prairie has the weakest proposal, putting a stadium at the old Best Buy HQ which lies in the triangle of land between 169, 212 and 494. Problem with that is that the traffic-flow around there just sucks, and trying to get to or from a game would be a nightmare, especially if you live closer to downtown. See for that entire triangle, there are two freeway entrances that will get you headed back towards downtown, and the freeways wall off all the local streets.
The St. Paul location will have similar traffic problems, but not quite as bad.
The Minneapolis location will be within a couple blocks of the Northstar line, the light rail from the airport, and the Cedar Lake Bike Trail. With all those ways to get there, I don’t care about the parking situation as much. [press-patch]
- The Strib takes a closer look at the proposals, but Governor Pawlenty’s Stadium Steering Committee’s website has all the details of each proposal if you’re really interested. [strib]
Update, 10:30 AM CST:I’m now using blo.gs for the blogroll over there on the right. Seems like it’s working after I did some hacking about. More tomorrow, but if something over there looks wacky, please let me know.
Y’know how sometimes you start to do one thing, get sidetracked by a detail you hadn’t thought of, and end up doing something completely different? That’s been the story of my life lately.
When I first bought the house, I figured that one of my top priorities was going to be getting new phone and electrical wiring installed (and probably ethernet while I was at it). The existing outlets and phone jacks aren’t sufficient, and are poorly placed. Well, after looking at the problem a couple times, I figured it could wait, since I’m getting by with power-strips and cordless phones.
So yesterday, I figured I’d get the remaining boxes in the living-room unpacked, and generally try to get the ground-floor into a state where I could have a hope of hosting a housewarming party before the month is over. It started well enough. The curious box from a CD player I don’t have any more turned out to contain the scanner for the computer. A dish-pack box in the basement contained my laser printer. Okay. All well and good, but I don’t have a place near the computer to set up peripherals, and I don’t have the bedroom upstairs done so I can move an office up there. Plunging on, I set those boxes aside (in the living-room, where my office currently is). That’s not exactly progress, but they were at least out of the way of the rest of the boxes that need to be dealt with.
Okay, I can at least push the TV back into the corner where it’s destined to live, right? Oops. No I can’t. The phone cord leading to the DirecTiVo is stretched as far as it will go, and I not only don’t have a longer cord, but it would still end up stretched right across the front entry-way, which isn’t a very good long-term solution. This is when I realized that I need to deal with the wiring situation.
First a call to Bill, since he’s got some tools I’ll need. He’s willing to help, and we’ll tackle the wiring sometime this weekend. Then a quick trip to Micro-Center and about $200 later, and I’ve now got a whole slew of networking and phone wire, a couple jacks that I believe I can use to get the installation done, and a handful of various connectors I probably won’t need unless I hadn’t bought them, in which case they’d be critical. In any case, I won’t be embarrassed by trying to wire the house and not having any wire.
Coming home from the store, I stopped by O’Brien’s Decoy to pick up some supper. After chowing down on about half the meal (I used to always eat the whole thing, but I don’t feel an urgent need to push maximum density, so I restrained myself), I was still slightly more full than was comfortable. The obvious solution was to plop down in front of the TV to waste two hours of my life watching Dancing at the Blue Iguana. Yes, there are topless cuties, but that doesn’t mean you should let them improv for two hours because none of them seem able to tell a story. Liberal use of the fast-forward button just might save this movie, but you’ll be left with about fifteen minutes of stuff worth watching. Then it was time for bed, wondering why it is that Daryl Hannah doesn’t put at least a little more meat on her bones. She’d be a lot prettier if she didn’t look like a crack-whore, especially when she didn’t seem to be playing one in the movie.
And that, dear readers, is why there is still a pile of boxes sitting in my living-room.
- Speaking of topless cuties, the Pirelli 2004 Calendar is available online, complete with wallpapers of half of the months. Pretty pictures that I’m sure help sell something or other somehow. Oh yeah. Tires! [boing boing]
- The Fontifier lets you turn your handwriting into a font, and seems to be past the rush of users who hammered it a week or two ago when everyone else was linking to it. [vowe]
- Chemists crack secrets of nature’s super glue used by blue mussels to anchor themselves. The secret is iron they extract from seawater. The glue will even stick to Teflon®.
- Here’s a cool how-to on the Microwave melting of metals. You can build a foundry in your kitchen! [flutterby]
- Prions: When Proteins Attack explains more about mad cow disease. Then again, so does this picture.
- Speaking of food, die puny humans has an impressive rant about food. It made me laugh more than once. [colby cosh]
- And to finish things off for the day, in Number Two! Engage! Skot talks about the politics of pooping at work, and damn! it’s funny. Way to use your psychoses constructively, Skot. [izzlepfaff!]
So it turns out that the problem I mentioned yesterday that I didn’t know if I could fix was fixable once I realized one critical fact: ATSUI is butt-slow when it’s drawing into a 1-bit bitmap on a machine whose video-card doesn’t support 1-bit mode (which is most machines now). Once I figured that out, I could choose to waste a lot of memory and draw into a full-on RGB pixmap, then render it down to 1-bit and see things get about 100x faster. It’s not every day you can make that kind of performance improvement, and I’m feeling a lot better about the software thing again.
While I was figuring that out, I was also on the phone with Paychex trying to get them to complete the change-of-address for my business. They make it (for at least a little while longer) much more complicated than it should be, since they make you file a form 8822 (PDF) with the IRS, then send them proof that the IRS has your change of address before they’ll actually put through the change. But they also file a form 941 (PDF) with the IRS every quarter, and that form has a handy little checkbox to tell the IRS that the address has changed. Due to my griping, they may actually check that checkbox for their customers (again, sometime in the future, but I’ve gotten assurances that they’re looking into it now – apparently adding a check-mark to the form is a major programming effort on their part) when their customers’ addresses change, and everything will be as it should have been. And it only took me about six hours of complaining altogether in order to nudge them into making that change.
A hint for dealing with publicly-traded companies: calling their Investor Relations number will often get you directly to a person who can bypass the maze of phone-menus and forward you right to the person who can help. But also note that this is powerful mojo, like using Jedi mind control or calling Amazon.com’s secret 800-number, so use it wisely.
One last thing before I get to the links – I realized this morning I’ll have owned my house for a full month tomorrow. I think I’ll celebrate by trying to at least finish getting the living room unpacked.
- A friend on the same mailing list that I mentioned on Tuesday points out that Bruce Sterling’s A Good Old-Fashioned Future contains the story Maneki Neko in which everyone receives what they want through unexpected means, but in exchange has to do small tasks as directed by some centralized system. It’s a very good story, and probably is part of what tickled my brain to mention that idea at all.
- The Spam King is a profile of Bill Waggoner, who’s one of the bigger spammers out there, may he rot in hell.
- Random Acts of Spamness talks more about spammers filling messages with random words to get around filters.
- Worsening spam epidemic chokes the net as 62.7 per cent of all global emails sent during December were spam, up from 55 percent in November and half in October. [fark!]
- Fax.com Still Dodging Legal Slaps, and will probably just not pay the $5.3 million fine levied by the FCC, the same way they’re not paying the $2.2 trillion that junkfax.org is seeking. Meanwhile, a number of spinoff companies are doing the same things that fax.com did.
I woke up feeling better today, but after the way yesterday went, that wasn’t much of a stretch. Yet another
Oh my god, we can’t ship with this bug that’s been in the code for the past six months! bug was found in some software I wrote. Thing is, it isn’t my bug, but a performance problem in Mac OS X 10.3, so there’s not a whole lot I can do about it. Not the kind of thing you want to try and deal with when you’re feeling under the weather.
I dunno. At this point I’m pretty discouraged by the whole software thing, and if I had any other ideas of how to keep my mortgage paid, I’d be awfully tempted to just power down the computer for a few months and do some mindless work.
- St. Paul still in the running, hoping for a miracle
We need a miraculous funding plan. That’s all. Just one lousy little miracle would do the trick.[press-patch]
- Stadium seems to get a cautious welcome in downtown St. Paul, but many people are expressing doubts about the location, since parking will be tight, and while the Xcel Center brought new businesses, they’re almost all restaurants, and small retailers have been abandoning downtown St. Paul. [press-patch]
- Meanwhile, Hennepin County backs stadium in Warehouse District in Minneapolis, which looks like one of the better locations, though there’s been a fair amount of handwaving over parking issues. Games starting at 7pm will have the same parking troubles that St. Paul will, in that commuters will still be leaving as people begin to arrive for the games. [press-patch]
- Why build an ice palace? Because it’s really cool and because we can. Remember that you can check the webcam to see how it’s going or just get the live picture here. [press-patch]
- The Lunch is a list of local places where two geeks eat lunch, once a week, at a new place every week. It looks like a pretty handy list, and hopefully will stick around.
- Finally, a note to city folk: Cows produce more than milk. Seems rural counties that are seeing a large number of folks moving from the cities are also seeing a large number of complaints about the realities of farming, so Stearns County is putting out a brochure with a
scratch and sniff cowpieto educate city-dwellers about what they can expect if they move to the country. The brochure was developed for Ottawa County, Michigan. The company that developed the
very authentic odorhad to close the plant and evacuate because of the smell at one point in production. Talk to Mark Knudsen, the Ottawa County planning director if you’re a government organization interested in the brochures. Here’s the press release, and a PDF of the brochure. [strib]
In spite of the threats of the horrible flu going around this winter and various other illnesses spreading, I’d managed to stay mostly healthy all through Christmas and New Years. But yesterday, it finally caught up with me, and I started feeling cruddy. I guess some bug has finally caught up with me, and it feels like I’m going to be spending the next couple days with a stuffed head and aching body. Hopefully that’s all it’ll be, but if the linkage is less, you’ll know why. And if the linkage is heavier than usual, it means I’m feeling well enough to lay on the couch with the laptop and surf the web a bit. I’m not sure which way this will go yet.
And as for the busy week I said I was facing yesterday morning? Well, some things just aren’t going to get done as soon as I’d hoped. I’ll worry about the details when I’m feeling better.
- In Manila, you’re apparently supposed to ask Honey, Feel Like Saving a Little Water? and see if you can bathe with your sweetie in order to conserve water. Funny, whenever I’ve asked that question, I’ve usually gotten either laughed at or an exasperated look.
- Are you quirkyalone? is a quiz to see whether you should even think about trying to find someone for February 14th, or just get ready to sit home. Me? I’m apparently
Yeah. That’s it. I’m romancing the world!
Relatives may give you quizzical looks, and so may friends, but you know in your heart of hearts that you are following your inner voice. Though you may not be romancing a single person, you are romancing the world.
- Many-to-Many: SocialGrid: Much, much crazier than I thought looks at solving dating. There’s some very strange stuff there but it looks like they’re basically trying to help you find your soulmate using google. [boing boing]
- I’ve heard people griping about Friendster and Tribe asking what use they are. I didn’t have a real good answer until last night, when I realized that both of them are approximations to the web of trust that PGP depended on, except for people who aren’t necessarily geeky enough to have a PGP key. Now they’re still not all inclusive, but by offering various benefits (friendster purports to help you find that special someone among the friends of your friends, tribe is more business-oriented), each of them draws a different crowd. While I wouldn’t necessarily want information shared among the various webs (including PGP key signing), I can see how useful it would be if the information were shared.
And that brings me to another idea. A friend on a mailing list was asking how he could get his parents the computer help they need. He’s plenty savvy technically, but his parents drive him nuts. Another friend mentioned that there should be some kind of network of professionals to help each other’s parents out (since trying to help your own parents can lead to frustration and insanity). I don’t think it’s the killer app for social-networking websites, but maybe it’s a step closer and someone who reads this will get inspired to make the killer app.
- Then I got to thinking,
Hey, isn’t that what money is supposed to be all about?Well, yeah, I think it is. The problem there is that monetary transactions now have too much friction due to taxation, government regulation, and middlemen in the way.
- I decided (while thinking about the social networking stuff) to check the Technorati Link Cosmos for Dave’s Picks again. There’s another network that might be useful. Or a source for some pages obviously written by people with excellent taste.
Here it is, Monday. And today’s going to be a fairly busy one. I’ll spare you the details, but this has the looks of shaping up to be a pretty long week. At least this coming weekend will see an off-season gathering of the PeTA people which I’m looking forward to. I think the idea of that is going to help in getting through the week.
But I’m probably not going to have a ton of linkage during the week. If you miss that sort of thing, this would be an excellent time to contribute some links. Note that when I’m not running low like this, I tend to try and group the links together in topics, so if there’s a topic that you wanna see more about, the surest way is to submit a link or two and then I’ll work on filling in more. Having commentary with your links helps too.
- According to The Register, spammers aren’t complying with the CAN-SPAM act, but continuing to just send out their junk. That’s about what I’ve been seeing, too. The latest trick is the addition of random words to the spam to throw off scanners. At least it makes the spam really easy to hand-delete.
- New survey reveals truth about sex and the city and the fact is that if you live in an urban area, you’re likely to spend half of your adult life single. Pretty easy to guess which end of that particular bell-curve I’m on. [press-patch]
- Russell over at Survival Arts says Well hello, Dave Polaschek after noticing that I linked to him on Saturday. So I decided it was time to update my blogroll over there on the right to match the current list of daily reads. And I probably won’t be adding comments anytime real soon. Between being busy with other stuff, and having to yank the last 10 referrers stuff due to referer-spammers, I don’t know when I’ll get around to doing more coding on the website. It doesn’t help the motivation to add a cool new feature (like the referers thing was) only to have to take it away because of crap like that. [survival arts]
- After slapping together some directions for Cooking Rice on a mailing-list the other day, I decided it would make a good addition to the recipes section here since that hadn’t been updated for a while. I’m also working on making a list of Dave’s Picks Stores where I tend to shop for things, but that’s taking longer than expected. I wish Scott hadn’t killed off his Local Interest Section because there were some entries in there I’d have liked to link to.
- ACLU readies for possible reality of Patriot Act II:
In short, if this passes, say goodbye to any shred of privacy you thought you still had, and don’t think you’ll be getting any of it back under the sunset provisions next year. [fark!]
Expanding on the original, the new measure is said to instruct the government to build a database of citizen DNA information that could be collected without a court order on anyone suspected of wrongdoing; allow the government to wiretap anyone for 15 days and snoop on anyone’s Internet usage, including chat and e-mail, without a warrant; allow the government to strip Americans of their citizenship if they have been found to have contributed material support to organizations deemed by the government, even retroactively, to be ‘terrorist;’ and allow legal permanent residents to be deported, without a criminal charge being filed or evidence presented, if the attorney general considers them a threat to national security.
It would also erase many of the original act’s ‘sunset’ provisions that stipulated law enforcement’s expanded powers would be rescinded in 2005.
- New drug store called bitter pill – CVS is trying to build an ugly-ass drugstore in St. Paul at the corner of University and Snelling. Their design for the corner of University Ave & 10th St SE had many of the same problems and despite my old neighborhood repeatedly complaining, they just kept coming back with the same design. See, they save money by designing one store, which is surrounded by a sea of parking lot, and they use that same design everywhere, even in cities where some other design would be more appropriate or where most of the traffic will be pedestrians and they don’t really need that sea of parking lot for customers, but just for the trucks that make deliveries. [press-patch]
- RFC 3092, released on April 1, 2001 discusses the etymology of
A useful piece of research, even if it is almost three years old and everybody and his brother is pointing to it now. [jwz]
Approximately 212 RFCs, or about 7% of RFCs issued so far, starting with [RFC269], contain the terms ‘foo’, ‘bar’, or ‘foobar’ used as a metasyntactic variable without any proper explanation or definition.
My computer and cell phone both tell me it’s Saturday, but it doesn’t feel much like a weekend. I woke up and looked at my to-do list and email, it’s going to be a busier day than most weekdays. Not only do I have a fair amount of work to do around the house, but I also have some work to do for a client. The past few weeks have been fairly frustrating, as everything from this client has been top priority, which I understand, but it’s meant that I’ve had less time around the house during the time when I was supposed to be “settling in” and getting the house so it feels more like home.
Yesterday morning Mark stopped by from St. Paul Plumbing, and we looked over the shower situation. What seemed like a fairly straightforward job to me has a few complications, and he left without doing more than scoping out the job, and promising to get back to me with some possible solutions on Monday. That’s not ideal, but at least the ball is rolling.
I need to spend today doing things around the house. I’m having a few guys over this evening to play cards, and need to get the kitchen (where the beer will be stored) and the dining room (where we’ll be playing cards) in good enough shape that we won’t be tripping over things as the evening progresses. I also need to get the stereo set up, and perhaps get some way to connect the iPod to it so we can have music during the game. It’s not a huge task, but it’s coming at a time when I’m feeling lazy.
As to feeling lazy, I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. There’s been a fair amount of stress shoved into my life in the form of some legal matters that I haven’t talked much about (and probably won’t until they’re done). Last Tuesday was part of that, and there are still more headaches on the way. Dealing with that while buying a house, moving, and trying to release software all at the same time has been a lot to try and keep straight, and it’s been taking its toll since early December. At this point, what I most want to do is spend about a week just sleeping, but I can’t do that just yet. Instead, Itook the day off yesterday, napping and watching TV after I’d dealt with the plumber and some critical email. I didn’t even leave the house, other than to stick my head outside to say hi to the mailman and pick up the mail.
So the short version is that I’ve got a busy day ahead of me today, but it’s mostly due to not getting anything constructive done yesterday. Tomorrow is booked up, too. And then it’ll be right back into the work week. I guess I did have a weekend, but it was yesterday.
- Here’s a cool this phone is tapped sticker (with instructions) that you may want to download. More about them over at survival arts which might make it onto my daily reading list. [survival arts]
- Ten race playoff system possible for NASCAR. I don’t know what the hell they’re thinking, but Matt Kenseth’s objection (that the last ten tracks are pretty much all the same) is a good one unless they rearrange the season, too. [fark!]
- Iraq war a mistake – No evidence of Saddam, Al-Qaida link claims that Colin Powell says there was no link, but if you read all the way to the end, he’s quoted as saying
I have not seen smoking-gun, concrete evidence about the connection (to terrorist organisations), but I do believe the connections existed.[jim]
- Some UCLA scientists believe they’re on the track of Predicting the Next Big One and have had some luck with the Paso Robles earthquake in December, and the Hokkaido quake last September. The press release has more.
- Here’s a handy list of the Top 10 Signs She’s Flirting With You. Or they could just be signs that she’s a friendly sort. [fark!]
On the house front, I had to wake up early and finish my morning ablutions today because I’m expecting a plumber to arrive between 8 and 9 AM to make my shower suit my tastes more. And yes, I’m aware that I know at least one plumber and plenty of people who’d be willing to help, but Wednesday I just snapped over the shower and decided I wasn’t going to wait to get it fixed. I’m really tired of spending five minutes bent over (the shower head is mounted on the wall below the level of my shoulders) only to discover I still haven’t gotten all the shampoo out of my hair (the water flow from the shower is best described as “a gentle rain”). So it’s getting fixed today. There will be plenty of other projects for folks to help with.
The downside of this plan is that last night happened to be the night chosen for going out to tip back a few beers. Well, more than a few. I stumbled home a few minutes before midnight, and waking up about 6am wasn’t especially fun. It’s also kind of odd drinking with three married geeks. Between the four of us, we exuded an awfully powerful female-repellent field. But it was still a fun time, and there was a decent (or perhaps indecent) amount of ogling going on.
One of the interesting things about having bought a house is the number of people that I haven’t heard from in years who have come out of the woodwork to congratulate me on my purchase. I didn’t realize buying a house was such a cause for celebration, but there you have it. In any case, yes, I am planning a housewarming party, and I’d like to throw it in January, but I’m going to be a busy camper if I’m going to be ready by the 31st. Details to follow once the date gets closer. And no, I’m not looking for a housemate just yet. I still have to finish the work on the bedrooms before I have someone else move in here.
- Canada’s beef with U.S. hits travelers, which matches the US restrictions imposed last May. Don’t try to bring any beef across the border, not even in dog food. [press-patch]
- Beefing about what’s in the news is Molly Ivins (funny) take on the meat-inspection process in this country. [some guy]
- Meanwhile, Scientists Discover That Enzyme Degrades Mad Cow Disease Prion, so maybe before too much longer, we won’t have to worry about BSE anyhow. [fark!]
- Real World Economics: Mad cows and irrational humans describes how people are funny about assessing risk and live in denial of everyday risks we take, yet freak out about uncommon risks. For example, many people who have cut back on beef consumption because of the mad-cow scare are eating more chicken, which is far more likely to give you food poisoning than beef. Me, I like to think about the economics of things. That’s why I’ve quit buying ground beef for a while. It’s hard to tell what’s gone into it, and besides, it’s often cheaper to buy a roast and grind it yourself. Second, I try to buy beef that’s been raised with at least some amount of pasture-grazing, rather than being grown on a feedlot. Beef raised that way just tastes better. Finally, I’d rather buy my dead-critters from a small shop where I can get things custom-cut, or a neighborhood store where I can ask about what I’m getting. I like to encourage small places that stock quality goods, and I do so with my checkbook. [press-patch]
Sorry about yesterday, but on top of being worn out from stuff on Tuesday, I was scrambling to fix some last-minutes bugs in software I’m working on. At any rate, I’m hoping at this point that most of the unpleasantness is behind me for a while, and life can get back to something more like normal.
- Well, here it is the evening of the 7th of January, two full weeks after I moved and called Qwest the first time asking why my DSL service wasn’t working, and twelve days after getting back online. This evening I got a call from UPS, since the DSL modem I was supposed to get from Qwest was sent to my old house, and the driver remembered me and knew that I’d moved. Yet another call to Qwest (33 more minutes spent on the phone, bringing the total over four hours), and a call to UPS later, the modem should be arriving here on Friday. But complaining again netted me a different phone-service package which should get me back to about the same price I was paying before getting switched to a package which was going to
save me a bunch of moneyand in addition to the $50 credit I’d already gotten, the guy tonight increased that to a credit for a full month of service (at the
saving me moneyrate of about $95/month, and not the new
save me moneyrate which should be something like $80/month).
Of course, this being Qwest, I’m not going to actually believe any of it until I see it working, but I also got to speak to a supervisor who’s promised that the three specific people I can prove screwed something up with my order:
No, you don’t need a new DSL modem.
Yes, we’ll ship that out to you to arrive on December 31.
Oh, that didn’t go out, but I’ll get it corrected and make sure it goes to your new address.
And Lance, if this doesn’t work, I’ll be talking to your supervisor, too. If it does, I might actually be able to go a week without having to call Qwest, and I thank you for that.
- Molitor milestone overshadowed by Rose’s latest tale. The only real question about Rose is whether he’s actually broken his string of 14 years of lying or not. Molitor, on the other hand, shows a lot of class and is just the kind of guy who belongs in the hall. Here’s more on Molitor’s moment. Dennis Eckersley also got voted in. Two good players made it this year. [press-patch]
- Bush Grabs New Power for FBI allowing them unprecedented power to obtain records from financial institutions without requiring permission from a judge. I think this is the same bill that means giving your bank more information when you need to open an account. Conveniently enough, the bill was signed on the day Saddam was captured. [boing boing]
- Bush hits snag on plan to help illegal workers by creating a guest-worker program for the US. I’ve seen how guest-worker programs work in Austria and Germany in 1980, and I don’t think it’s a good idea. Many of the jobs that end up being filled by guest-workers are jobs that are normally
entry-leveljobs in the US and are often filled by teenagers or college students. In Europe, they’re also facing big demographic shifts due to their guestworkers, while there’s almost 100% unemployment among the young. Guest-workers become permanent, and rather than kids getting a job, they idle through school. Doesn’t seem right to me. [press-patch]
Dear Mr. Kotter:
Please excuse Dave from blogging today. After spending yesterday dealing with lawyers, Dave has an inner-ear problem… he hates to hear himself scream.
Or at least not much. I’ve gotta scoot out the door early for an appointment so today’s just links.
- Ray Davies got shot chasing the guy who tried to mug his girlfriend. He’s doing fine but is
lucky to be alive.Full story at Times Online (registration required – cypherpunk/cypherpunk works). The mugger? Captured, since Davies’ girlfriend got the license plate of the car. [jim]
- As threatened, Minneapolis is now enforcing rules of the (rail)road, ticketing people for doing dumb things near the light rail. [press-patch]
- 4-degree day is nice news for Ice Palace. Yeah, it was that cold yesterday, and it gives the people building the Ice Palace much better ice to work with. Check out the progress on the web cam. [press-patch]
- Rose makes Hall gamble, admits to baseball bets on games that he managed, saying
I never allowed my wagers to influence my baseball decisions. So, in my mind, I wasn’t corrupt.Well, if they’re going to let Rose into the Hall, they’d best reconsider some of the Black Sox, too, but I think that Pete Rose’s ban should last at least through the twenty-year period so he’d have to be voted in by the veterans committee, but even that would be a stretch today, as the rules say
Anyone on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list is not an eligible candidate.Further, the Hall of Fame is independent, and says
We believe in high standards, making it very difficult to be elected,which makes it seem unlikely Pete Rose will get in anytime soon. [press-patch]
- FCC fines company $5.4 million for violating do-not-fax rules. Fax.com got fined. Of course it’ll take them years to pay it while they appeal, but it’s nice to see them getting slapped around to the tune of $11,000 per fax. [fark!]
Today’s the start of the business year for most companies. Yeah, there were a few people working last Friday, but damn few. Today, everyone’s mostly back at work, and starting to dig into the problems they’ll be dealing with through 2004. Except for a few who got their walking papers sometime over the Christmas holiday season and are trying to figure out whether that was a lucky occurance or not.
Around here, it’s kind of the same thing. I spent yesterday mostly watching TV and generally just vegetating. The stereo didn’t get set up, and probably won’t until Saturday, when it will be time to make frantic preparations to host the monthly poker game. (Jim: remember you said you’d pick up some cards from Target for me.)
I’m not sure what today will bring, but I know it involves paying some bills and restocking the fridge. Beyond that, there’s a job I should either bid on or bow out of gracefully, but it’s a bigger job than I’ve taken on before (or rather, it’s obviously bigger before I start on it – I don’t think it will grow from a “couple month” project into a two-year gig as some other projects have). Overall, I’m fairly nervous about it. It would be a chance to make my business bigger, but I still need to figure out whether I want a bigger business in that way, and whether I can commit the time needed to do the job right. I’d rather pass on the job than take it on and end up doing it half-assed.
I guess that’s the big question for me in 2004. Am I going to continue to muddle on as I have been (with the modification of owning a house), or am I going to take some risks in order to have a bigger and more successful business? I think this Oldie but Goldie posted by VoWe this morning might point the way, but maybe a local PHP programmer will contact me looking for work and the plan will come together.
- Mysterious pieces of Minneapolis’s past on exhibit in the tunnel between City Hall and the Government Center this month. Sounds like it’ll be worth a trip downtown to see, and interesting that it made the front page of the paper from St. Paul, but not Minneapolis. It’ll be gone at the end of the month, so I can’t put off the visit for too long. [press-patch]
- The Idiot Villager asks At what cost safety? pointing out recent abuses by the government in the name of security, including getting the names of everyone who spent New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas and
disruptingMiddle Eastern immigrants in Los Angeles. But hey, it makes people feel safe, so there’s not likely to be much outcry about it.
- Get Out of Debt! AOL Releases Top Spam List and says that they block nearly 500 billion spams, or more than ¾ of the email coming to AOL. Spam still seems to be making money for somebody, since the bastards are still sending it out. [jwz]
- It definitely seems to be a slow-news Sunday. The geeks are excited about some Mars probe, and that’s all well and good, but I can’t work myself up over more pictures of Mars at this point. I dunno. I guess I’m still bitter that my flying car hasn’t arrived yet. [some guy]
- Bacteria in food sickens millions and so far nobody’s died from BSE in the US. So why don’t people worry more about chickens that are dragged through a soup of chicken poop after slaughter or that cows carrying E. Coli that are ground up into hamburger? Well, I guess us humans are just bad at assessing relative risks. Besides, thinking about the chicken thing is just ucky. [press-patch]
- In other news, I received notice yesterday that the US Patent and Trademark Office has approved our registration of Better Nerds™ as a trademark and will be publishing it. If nobody objects saying that they’ve used the mark before us, I’ll be able to use that ® symbol pretty soon. That’s kinda exciting. At least for me.
- In site news, I killed off the last 10 referrers list after 22 months of having it sitting over there on the right. I got tired of needing to continually modify my scripts to keep the referer-spammers out of there, and screwed up the permissions on the file that held the information while doing some site-work earlier in the week, so it was just easier to kill it off for now.
On the home front, I got the kitchen unpacked yesterday. Well, all except for a steamer and a few other items in the last box, on which I just ran out of steam (pun not really intended). The plan today is to finally get the stereo set up (music has been coming out of my computer and boom box) and to clean out the pile of empty cardboard boxes that are sitting on my kitchen floor. But I was out at Manning’s last night, and am feeling kind of lazy today, so those plans might prove to be overly ambitious.
- New year brings inventive laws and this round-up lists some of the more interesting ones. [fark!]
- Eyes on the road — not on the screen details California’s new ban on using a laptop or watching TV while driving. I’m definitely against the law. I think idiots should be allowed to do whatever damfool thing they want in their cars. And when they drive into something, they should be held responsible for the damages. Sadly, cars are mostly safe enough where natural selection alone won’t do the job. [gizmodo]
- In Fire and Steel, sdb explores the Jacksonian core of American spirit, and explains some of why many
silly peoplewere convinced that America had grown soft and weak before 9/11. And why that misconception seems to recur about every thirty years, followed by a major war in which the US shows that perhaps we aren’t so soft and weak after all.
- Jeffrey Zeldman Presents: Goodies are a few handy favelets for doing web design and points to CSS Vault has a gallery and a bunch of useful resources. [zeldman]
- Here’s an analysis of a spamvertized cd with e-mailaddresses and what kind of actual quality the spammer is selling. The short version is that the CD doesn’t provide what’s promised, and includes a number of addresses that are actively bad to send to if you’re a spammer (such as abuse@domain).
I didn’t make a lot of progress on the home-front this week. Rather than getting more things unpacked and some of the smaller tasks done around the house, I spent time dealing with bugs in some software I’m trying to finish up. The most annoying thing is that these aren’t bugs that have been introduced recently, but rather problems that have been lurking in the software for months and have just recently been found. It leads me to think that maybe there’s a business opportunity out there for teaching organizations how to actually test their products. Of course I’m going to have to figure out how to sell the expertise I’ve picked up over the years, and more importantly, the expertise of my employee who’s really good at quality assurance (because he’s more obsessive-compulsive than I am).
One of the things I need to figure out around the house is how to get the grates for the cold-air returns fixed up. They’re nice wooden lattices, but because they were made while there was carpeting in here, they’re now about ¼″ too thick, so I need to buzz some wood off the back sides of them so I can fit them back into the floor again. I was thinking that the floor guys would do that with their big belt-sanders, but apparently I was confused, so they’re the one bit of flooring-related work that’s remains to be done on the ground floor. Anyone know someone with the right tools to finish that job? Professional help would be fine. Drop me a note, please. I need to get them fixed before I can have the house-warming, since having people falling into the heat ducts would be a bad thing.
- So it seems I’ve been running into IE6 strict mode box model bugs that have been making this site hard to read for Windows users. Sorry about that, but not using Windows much myself (and this not being a commercial site), I usually don’t test against the bugs in that browser before changing things.
This turned otu to be a particularly nasty one to work around without changing everything about my layout, since IE6Win does bad things with absolutely positioned things on the right (like I have) when the elements to their left don’t have a width (found a hint about this at the Absolutely Buggy II page in the Fixes section).
So my solution is that the #main div on my page now has a width set to 65%. This works out to give more or less the same look I always had, but it should also make things work on Win IE6, as long as your browser window is at least about 600 pixels wide. Please let me know if there are other problems.
- LRT safety plan has sting to it and if you jaywalk across the LRT tracks, you’ll get a $100 fine. [strib]
- Judge Dismisses AOL Spam Lawsuit, saying that AOL hadn’t proved that Virginia had jurisdiction over the spammers who were in Florida, even though the spam passed through AOL’s servers in VA. [fark!]
- Lake Superior State’s Banished Words List for 2004 is up. Hopefully we can drop some of those words. [colby cosh]
- Well, here it is 2004. Tom the Tailor’s New Year’s Eve party was the best-attended I’ve ever seen there, with nearly twice as many people as the previous best. There were so many people that I left shortly after midnight, just because I was getting claustrophobic. But much fun was had, and I think that having my new house walking distance to Tom’s, as well as to the Sportsman and Manning’s is going to be a good thing. I’m starting to like the new neighborhood, even if there isn’t a 24-hour inconvenience store handy.
- A reader points out that Dave is the worst name you can give a baby, apparently dooming one to a life of mediocrity. Dang. Guess I’ll have to crawl back into my hole now. Or maybe not…
- Pollsters can’t connect with cellphone society because they’re not allowed to call cell phones, and there are ever more people who don’t have landlines. So polls will be skewed, and the pollsters screwed. I know I feel pretty bad for ’em.
- Core of a Comet Lights Up January’s Night Sky. The Quadrantids begin early Sunday morning, and are about as intense as the Perseids.
- An Unrepentant Spammer Considers the Risks and considers stopping sending out spam. So maybe the new federal law did have some effect.
- When Words Collide talks about email threading, and it’s apparently a good enough idea that jwz thinks it’s cool. [jwz]
- Jim stopped by The Local after work on Thursday and was amazed. They had an XLerator Hand Dryer. It’s an electric hand dryer that does something no other electric hand dryer does – it dries your hands. No more need to
wipe hands on pants.[jim]
Thinking back on the party last night, I’m struck by the different conversational openings I was hit with. There were two gals who served as a nice contrast. The prettier of the two opened a conversation with a question that I remember as
Why don’t guys talk to me? I understand why women don’t, since I’m pretty, but why don’t guys want to talk to me? The other one spent a minute or two listening to a conversation I was having with another guy, and then sidled her way into the conversation. Guess which one I spent more time talking to?
That’s not to say that an abrupt approach won’t work to start a conversation with me. One guy at the party who looked familiar asked:
Did you used to work at LaserMaster? Did you try to sodomize me at Toro’s of Aspen in 1992? I’d completely forgotten that he’d worked at LM (he was only there for six months, working in a different group), and apparently at some point in that booze-soaked evening over ten years ago (the same evening when Mel stole the framed poster from the men’s room, and where Aaron and I spent much of the evening trying to convince the bartender to make us a pitcher of manhattans, but that’s another story) he was standing at the bar, and I wanted a drink, so I’d come up behind him and, um, gotten a bit familiar while trying to get the bartender’s attention. We talked quite a bit last night, too.