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|Monday, November 3rd, 2014|
Registration for Spring 2015 opens tomorrow. So, yeah, I started doing the plebeian undergrad thing again. No, I don't already have a degree. I got distracted with the dot com boom and other things. Working for failed startups and doing tame large company IT stuff, I did a wretched job of actually cashing in on it, but that's the story of my life.
Anyway, I have to figure out what I'm doing now.
I'm supposed to be working on a Kickstarter, but I kind of got my ass handed to me between ongoing TBAG projects and UMNC Biology and Physics (online). I wound up with five chapters of biology reading the other week. Officially, there were two, and one of the labs required another one, and the suggested text and the one I own don't line up exactly.
This made me wonder if UMNC is covering way more stuff than ASU would have, so I asked Google.http://www.public.asu.edu/~rball5/BIO%20181%20syllabus%20Fa2012.pdfhttp://gurney.faculty.asu.edu/uploads/pdffiles/BIO.182.syllabus.Spring.2012.pdf
At midterms, we've covered all of that, except for one thing, and more. One of those looks really fluffy. Still left:
Human anatomy and physiology, Human Genetics, Cellular respiration, Photosynthesis.
I also suspect that we're covering stuff in more depth than ASU would. Methylation of DNA by histones (epigentics) was on the midterm exam.
I also don't see anything about class projects in the ASU syllabi.
Physics has been similar.
None of this is especially difficult, but with sometimes two labs a week and small avalanches of chapters, it's time consuming.
Doing UMN again was partially motivated by a general disgust I have for ASU. I almost never see the students studying whereas other places libraries are wonderful places of quiet and concentration. They drive like aggressive spoiled richkid asshats. Bikeability on campus is just sad, with 2.5 of the boardering roads not having bike lanes and looking like highways and almost nil bike theft enforcement and a complete lack of bike paths on campus.
It was also motivated by a strong sense, from talking to compsci people at ASU, that their undergrad academics are badly subpar.
Then there's the perk of online education that I can travel around and be non-committal to the entire state of Arizona.
I don't know if the quality of instruction is better or worse, but Minnesota suffers a glut of prospective students due to some extremely attractive state level student subsidizes: they pay half of your education, outright. My strong impression from the computer science classes I took there, and the anthro, was that they'll happily slaughter half of a freshman class, and in fact have to. Since anyone can afford to go, academic standards are the only barrier. So they just don't hold back. Even with enormous stadium lecture halls and classes starting at 7am, they can't fit everyone.
But I might be wrong and this might all be bias.
But US News and World Report lists Crookston as #1 in regional schools, in the Midwest Region:http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/rankings/regional-colleges-midwest/top-public
Whereas ASU is ranked #129 nationally:http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/asu-1081
I have no idea what they're ranked on, but I'm going to stick my head in a hole and assume that the one and only criteria is kids coming out less stupid than when they went in.
But really, I'm probably just fooling myself. When you get off the beaten path a bit, I'm sure ASU has tons of great classes for the more ambitious students.https://webapp4.asu.edu/catalog/courselist?s=CSE&t=2131&hon=F
Yup. Nothing as mindblowing as what they were doing at the UMN TC back in the day, with some of their AI courses, their robotics program, or the computer/biology crossover neurobiology stuff, but still, lots of stuff that might actually be educational.
Oh, fun fact: You can take PUBH 1003 Alcohol and College Life (UMTC) online at UMNC. Learn how to say "no" to parties without ever leaving your room!http://onestop2.umn.edu/courseinfo/viewSearchResults.do?campus=UMNCR&swapNow=N&searchTerm=UMNCR%2C1153%2CSpring%2C2015&searchSubjects=****|****&searchCatalogNumber=&searchOnline=true&searchOpenSections=true&searchLowerStartTime=00%3A00%2C12%3A00&searchUpperEndTime=23%3A59%2C11%3A59&searchMon=true&searchTue=true&searchWed=true&searchThu=true&searchFri=true&searchSat=true&searchSun=true&searchLowerLevelLimit=0%2C0xxx&searchUpperLevelLimit=9999%2C9xxx&searchLowerCreditLimit=0&searchUpperCreditLimit=9999&searchInstructorName=&searchCourseTitle=&searchSessionCodes=ALL%2CALL&campus=UMNCR&search=Search
I was really, really supposed to have been working on the Kickstarter. It's important to maintain goodwill and keep momentum up from volunteers who got involved. I also need to finish my work there before I run out of money.
I made some good progress on the installer, especially before classes started, adding OSX support and making stuff a lot more robust.
I was kind of hoping that grants, federal loans, and tax rebates would cause a (temporary; loans) cash influx to make time less critical, but if there's a temporary influx, it's small.
To minimize loan debt, I was thinking of taking all of the dumb computer classes I'm way overqualified for all at the same time and taking a 30 credit load (credits at the 13th are free), but even the busywork associated with that would take a significant amount of time and the Kickstarter badly needs love. Maybe I'll do that in the future.
Actually, looking through this, only 21 credits worth of stupid easy computer stuff are being offered for spring, and fall probably isn't much better:
SE 2050 Introduction to Programming I
SE 3060 Data Warehousing and Mining
NT 3215 Information Assurance and Systems Security
ITM 3110 Microcomputer Operating Systems
ITM 3020 Introduction to Management Information Systems
HI 3020 Introduction to Health Information Systems
CA 1040 Web Site Development
The degree program is "Information Technology Management". I'd love to be able to say I graduated with a computer science degree but extremely few places off that online and those that do either don't federal aid or have miserable curriculum and cost too much money. CSci masters seem to be a lot more common now. One option there would be to finish the prereqs like biology and physics, take a few more fun upper level computer things, and then try to get in to a masters program somewhere.
Anyway, it's time to register again. I could try to pick out two 3 credit really easy looking classes. I could decide that even that's too risky and I really need to 100% focus on the Kickstarter, but I can only use the educational opportunities tax credit for four years and it's prorated to expenses, so I'd be walking away from some money there. I could stubbornly decide that taking easy classes which cost money and teach little are not a good use of time or money and steadfastly plunge forth into taking math or even more bio.
I like to make things as complex for myself as humanly possible, so one thing I was thinking about was applying elsewhere next year with the goal of transferring the credits back in to UMNC. Some rural midwestern community colleges are online and one of them has a COBOL class:https://people.richland.edu/fbrenner/syllabus/cs161course.html
That starts to look pretty attractive compared to the Information Technology Management offerings at UMNC:https://webapps-prd.oit.umn.edu/courses/courses.jsp?campus=UMNCR&designator=ITM
In part (large part, actually):
ITM 3110 - Microcomputer Operating Systems
(3.0 cr; A-F or Aud, spring, every year)
Introduction to DOS, Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows NT, and UNIX operating systems. Single-user vs. multiuser systems, control operations, utilities, hardware, application software specifications.
ITM 3130 - Messaging Systems
(3.0 cr; Prereq-3110, NT 3120; fall, every year)
Unified messaging types such as electronic mail, fax, voice. Server software such as Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Notes, Novell Groupwise. Internet standards for messaging.
ITM 3190 - Topics in Information Technology Management
(3.0 cr [max 9.0 cr]; Prereq-SE 2050, SE 3050; fall, spring, every year)
Topics may include cold fusion, asp, net, other emerging platforms.
That's assuming that I actually try to get this particular degree from them, which might be a rational thing to do for a person not hell bent on making their life difficult. If I wanted to make things more interesting, I could take other stuff, ignore the program I'm in, and try to transfer later, or else engage in plea bargaining for some kind of a degree after having taken all of the wrong classes.
But I already know DOW, Windows 3.1, and Windows 95, so I could just fork over some cash and glide right through and basically just buy myself some credits, which is exactly what I didn't want to do at ASU.
In case you also didn't get the memo, Microsoft has been working very hard to rid the world of Windows XP. I'm not sure what they'd say about a university that's teaching future managers about the wonders of Windows 3.1.
Though honestly there's less complete trash in here, NT:https://webapps-prd.oit.umn.edu/courses/courses.jsp?designator=NT&submit=Show+the+courses&campus=UMNCR&admissionURL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww1.crk.umn.edu%2Fadmissions%2F&oneStopURL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww3.crk.umn.edu%2Fonestop%2F&applicationURL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww1.crk.umn.edu%2Fadmissions%2Fapply%2Findex.html
And here, SE:https://webapps-prd.oit.umn.edu/courses/courses.jsp?designator=SE&submit=Show+the+courses&campus=UMNCR&admissionURL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww1.crk.umn.edu%2Fadmissions%2F&oneStopURL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww3.crk.umn.edu%2Fonestop%2F&applicationURL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww1.crk.umn.edu%2Fadmissions%2Fapply%2Findex.html
One of the things UMN Crookston does for online programs is a hospital information systems masters, so those classes are available to me with exciting options such as HSM 1010 Health System Management/Medical Terminology. That sounds like the rote learning jackpot.
So, as soon as I figure out what in the everloving heck I'm trying to do, then I can figure out which classes to take. Candidates include:
MATH 1150 Stats
SE 3060 Dating Warehousing
COMP 1011 Composition
SPCH 1101 Public Speaking
COMP 3431 Persuasion
COMM 3857 Tech communications
COMM 4900 PR
CRJS Introduction to Criminal Justice
HSM 1010 Health System Management / Medical Terminology
SE 3700 Project Management
NT 3215 Information Security
IBUS 3500 International Business Management
HSM 4210 Health Care Law and Biomedical Ethics
HLTH 1062 First Aid and CPR (2 cr)
ENGL 3001 World Literature
That's not listing most of what I'm actually supposed to take:http://www1.crk.umn.edu/academics/online/itm/curriculum/index.html
Accounting. Bleah. Took it in highschool.
There's also the possibility of taking more stuff from other UMN campuses (Morris, Duluth, Twin Cities) but Crookston is the budget option. Morris only costs a bit more.
I guess right now it comes down that if I take a couple of easy classes, I'll likely be ruining my scheme of taking all of the computer related classes all at once to save money on credits, so maybe I should take the spring semester off. Urgh. Over analyzing things make deciding hard.
Or I could bail on this plan for the time being and re-allocate the love back to Coursera. The Data Scientist track was pretty awesome.
|Wednesday, September 10th, 2014|
Growing up, I knew lots of adults who tinkered with engines. Some were really good at it. Others just knew some basics. I've been enjoying talking online to the old guys who work on Honda N600s and Z600s. It's a bit more common in Texas, but for the most part, people just don't do that any more. I read a statistic the other day that Tempe is among the top 20 safest places because motorists only get in an accident once every ten years. I guess there isn't much point to learning how to work on your car if it's just going to get wrecked.
On CRAP the other night, as often happens, people were praising their smart phones to me, telling me how it does everything they want. That's because you're not doing anything interesting. You're only doing things that 100,000s of other people do. Otherwise no one would have bothered to make an app to let you do it. If you only do things you can do on the smartphone, you're never going to do anything original or interesting, except perhaps write a novel or take a cool photograph. Not only do you not contribute to the basic ecosystem you're contained in with that phone, but anything too edgy for mass consumption is locked out of it.
Trying to do TBAG stuff, I spend a lot of time talking to people and encouraging them to do various different things. Right now, the cops are staking out the sidewalk along University Ave right in middle of campus and ticketing bike riders on it. The riders use it as a multiuse path like the rest of the paths (not sidewalks, paths) on campus. These students are coming to TBAG for help, as if we can magically make the cops stop. Well, I might be able to do that, but I'm already doing 30 other things. Asking them if they could help put fliers on bikes as part of an educational effort that's less severe than that of getting a ticket, I get stone cold silence. What, do something? Crazy! Yet your complaining to me suggests that you want me to do something. Did I say it wrong? Should I complain at you that students aren't helping save their own asses and act like everyone else is a surrogate parent?
Given a choice between doing stuff and not doing stuff, nearly everyone opts for not doing stuff, every time. And then they brag about how little they did.
Since when did not doing things become cool? Since when did doing things become stigmatized? Well, it's stupid. People who are doing things are way more interesting than people who aren't. Why else would I get 500 emails a day from you assholes?
Something else has changed since my childhood: People are really unhappy. Or maybe I'm imagining it. More than half of the people I know and hang around with describe themselves as being depressed. Sure, people were melancholy sometimes. Major life events would leave us profoundly sad.
If you're not free to affect change in your community, or play outside and run wild in the street, or create new social institutions, or organize a protest, or install unapproved apps, or ticket with your engine, or use art to change peoples opinions, then you aren't free. If you aren't free, you're disenfranchised. In the doctors office of life, you're just sitting there in the waiting room reading shitty magazines. What did Shakespeare write about outrageous fortune and picking up arms?
Kids, it isn't your fault, but us old people got adequately placated with consumer goods and comfort. Not made happy, but placated. It gets easier as the energy levels run down with age. Then Madison Avenue turned their eyes to you and honed and refined their algorithms to insanely efficient levels, and they're doing the same thing to you, but starting at a much younger age and much more thoroughly. You've got Coke in your bottle from a young age, literally and figuratively. You won't drink water unless it has a brand name printed on plastic packaging around it. That's not freedom.
When's the last time you had a protest on campus about anything? I protested water pollution on the Mississippi, the University of Minnesota investing in a company that made land mines, and handing over food service to Aramark, all in one year. Protest the police ticketing you. Being a good little consumer won't save you. Grow a spine. DO SOMETHING.
|Friday, August 22nd, 2014|
|Localvoring it (from an email)
One person a couple of blocks over has an enormous pomegranate bush, but I only just discovered that the other day, and it looks like no one really took any of the fruit. Hundreds were mummified on the ground and the whole bush was covered in mummified pomegranates. Depressing. They were probably shot before I got back.
I spotted ripe dates on the ground on that same walk back from campus, so I visited that spot where we got all of the black sphinx dates. I had been keeping an eye on it on PISS rides, but didn't see any sign of fruit, so I was surprised when I did see dates. I guess what happened was they trimmed all of the fruit stalks before they could fruit, so there's just no fruit this year. I wandered around in the complex and that's the case for the dozens of trees in there. Frustrating. I was determined to nab those. I did find some of the small brown ones in a park in the area, but it will take a few more visits to get any sort of quantity going, and they really aren't nearly as amazing.
I wouldn't mind doing a bunch of mesquite, but that seems pretty involved and I don't know the schedule on that and I don't think I could swing it right now.
I'm kind of thinking prickly pair mead, if I can get to the rest of the fruit before they rot. I don't know if it will be good, but it'll be local. Especially being on a budget, I really feel like I need to be taking advantage of local stuff, and I'm not above things like mulberries.
Hauling Ben out to collect prickly pair fruit was fun. (Edit: Rides are good, but rides with a mission are better.)
The grapefruit trees along the PISS route still have some fruit from last year, but only just a bit, and it's the really sweet but kind of strange stuff that happens when it's been there all year. I'm still eating it.
Oh gawd... I should cc Valerie on this. Or just make it into a blog post. She would empathize with my compulsion.
|Thursday, May 2nd, 2013|
At a city public meeting (Citizen's Transportation Commission, a fine example of citizen government), one person with the city remarked that the bicycle people were always the most organized.
It makes sense. Cyclists don't shop at the giant mall off of the Interstate. They shop at those little local businesses, and they make friends with the owners, and they see their neighbors shopping in there, too. They see their friends on the street and stop, pull off of the road, and chat. They wave to their neighbors when they ride by their neighbors in their front yards. They also have about $8,000/year more disposable income they tend to like to spend on entertainment, which amounts to dining out, buying locally made goods, locally grown produce, and supporting local pubs rather than sending the money out of town by financing cars and buying gasoline. This helps them spend quality time dining, cooking, and drinking with friends and neighbors.
No wonder cyclists are so active in their community: they're connected to their community. And that's exactly why bicycle infrastructure is a good idea: it connects people to their community.
|Saturday, February 16th, 2013|
I inherited my roommate's PowerBook G4 and just got around to plastering over his stickers with mine. Chickens got re-fenced a bit so that they don't have access to poop on most of the patio, so the punching bag and weights can go there. I've been playing with the Palm webbrowser "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows 98; PalmSource/Palm-D050; Blazer/4.3)". Many sites freak out at seeing "MSIE 6.0". A browser that tries to be compatible with MSIE 6 is perhaps the only thing more frightening than MSIE 6. I wonder in a morbid sort of way if this thing runs VBA (MSIE used to and maybe still does run embedded VBA in addition to JS). I migrated away from a desktop machine for the Windows 2003 machine to a laptop but that didn't really free any space as the even larger amd64 dev machine for the wG8 installer. Most users are 64 bit users and emulating 64 bit on a slow 32 bit machine is impractical for development and smaller computer cases cost more and the amd64 mainboard won't fit in the P4 Celeron's case. I spent one evening fixing an audio tape that got its tape wrapped around a spindle in the Pixelvision when trying to get the mencoder command to rip it down. The great eBay garage sale continues. I spent a few hours today cutting up stained and torn clothes to make rags, some for myself, some for Bike Saviours. Ben5 (roommate) decided that the straw was too messy on the floor of the shed and he wasn't comfortable with putting it on something outside with a tarp over it, so he portioned it out into boxes, put the ones on the bottom in (compostable) plastic bags, neatly stacked them, and then put the tarp over them, inside of the shed. (I asked permission to post this story before posting it.)
|Friday, February 8th, 2013|
|"We designed an ethno-archilogical component that really addressed the question of how people use...
"We designed an ethno-archilogical component that really addressed the questions of how people use their built in environments..."http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmUyTauQBQ4&list=PLn9gUqW6huXVtpoO2CgevGimk2dLIkKM8&index=1
... _A Cluttered Life: Middle-Class Abundance_
"Hyperconsumerism is evident in many spaces, like garages, corners of home offices..."
Photo: A corner office full of papers. Someone has a serious paper buying habit. Silly Americans, buying so much paper. Normal people don't have paper in their home office.
"Of course, Children of all societies have something that is similar to toys, but the sheer quantity of toys is astonishing, from a cross-cultural point of view..."
Photo: Look at all of those Legos! Most children around the world only have one Lego Building Brick. And they LIKE it that way.
"We found in the study that children's toys and objects were in livings rooms, they were in spare bedrooms, they were in their own bedrooms, they were in kitchens, they were even sometimes in master bedrooms."
Photo: Billy! Have you been paying with your piano in the spare bedroom again!? Put that back in your closet where it belongs. And how many times have we told you about not having board games in the family area!
"One of the things we soon realized is that the toys themselves were toys for the parents as well as for the children. The house had a actually had a kind of child culture about it as a whole..."
Photo: Hey, wait! This robot is not actually functional. We have identified a toy in the main room of a house!
"Some of it is nostalgia, right? I mean Snoopy right, he's a cultural icon. How many children actually recognize Snoopy in a contemporary... Snoopy is a fact of, you know, our childhood."
Photo: The study identified inappropriate art.
"The reality is that we're spending perhaps more on children's culture, toys, than ever before, in the history of mankind."
Photo: Cavemen stopped at Shoots and Ladders and generally didn't also buy Apples to Apples. If the family would just spend its time in front of the TV like Australopithecus did, it wouldn't have so much clutter... on its bookshelves... and its bookshelves would be nice and tidy and empty.
I support a lot of what they're saying, but their examples are cherry-picked and, in my opinion, they are often stretching to make their point even with their cherry-picked examples. I cherry-picked from their cherry-picking, of course.
It started with "we went into the homes of 32 family... each family had two parents that both worked outside the home for at least 30 hours a week". Given the same data, I might draw a different conclusion: That Americans work too much. Having too little time, and an un-sought after disposable income, piled up papers in home offices, focused attempts at family time via board games, and buying abundances of toys seem a natural consequence. The study selected dual income families. I'd like to see those 32 families contrasted against 32 single income families. The on-air segment keeps saying "Americans" as if the dual income families are the quintessential American family. No, it's one route people take. Often, married couples never make an arrangement where by they live off of one income, whether out of different priorities, habits, or whatever, and excess disposable income with too little time at home is a common result.
|Tuesday, January 29th, 2013|
|Treatise On Stuff
A lifecycle to things is an interesting perspective. I've been told
that Japan has something like that, too. Recycleability is paramount.
Japanese electronics are never glued together but always screwed
together. I see the iPad revolution as a step back in a lot of ways
and now the new MacBooks are glued together too. From hearing Guzy
talk about his trip, the Japanese are also extremely wasteful in
refusing to repair things that break and not dealing in used goods.
If I were a farmer in Kenya, I wouldn't have use for most of the stuff
that I have.
_Your Money or Your Life_ talks about this a lot, but a lot of things
are (virtually or actually) necessary for my line of work. If I were
a blacksmith, I'd have more square feet and pounds of things, but it
would be fewer things. A blacksmith doesn't have need for logic
jumpers in five sizes. I've always followed my own instincts more so
than most people do (I think), and my instincts often tell me to be
curious about things. A lot of times they were too early and
sometimes they were too late, but I've come to have a strong respect
for them. If that little voice in my brain tells me that I should
send away to the UK for the instruction reference for a new processor
called the "ARM", I listen to it and do it. I think that in picking
technologies to play with, I've been successfully in at least keeping
things pretty fun by getting fun gigs that let me play with neat
things even if money has been elusive. But I'm also aware to some
large degree of the mental, material, and financial burden of
constantly trying to stay relevant and learn numerous technologies
Sorting through things hasn't made me happy about getting rid of stuff
or especially philosophical but it has made me think about the
situation some. If anything, I'm refining my own existing attitudes
towards things. Perhaps that's the general result -- a feedback loop
-- feelings of validation of existing attitudes. A large number of my
boxes are food and kitchen stuff. I don't have a lot of silly
appliances, but I do have various specialized tools and ingredients,
almost all of which I use. More people should cook and eat at home.
I'm sharing a kitchen and moving into a place with a stocked kitchen,
but I do not want to have to take the time and money to replace all of
my kitchen utensils if I do something else later. A lot of the boxes
are jars for canning. Those too are tools. Ben5 and I traded a very
cool neighbor lady down the street jam and honey lemon ginger tea for
two panniers full of lemons. Canning has been my primary item of
production for barter. Those tools don't make me money, but they do
help me eat well without having to spend more money for the privilege.
A safecracker or locksmith might have piles of locks and safes to
practice on. The DEFCON crowd has brought renewed interest in
lockpicking and physical security, and computer security was
intertwined in it in the early days (eg, with the MIT hackers). You
cannot study lockpicking in an abstract sense and have it be useful.
You need access to the actual machines. My old RISC machines let me
play with complicated but very different systems (sometimes
complicated and simple in strange ways). This stretches my head in a
way that I enjoy. Similar for the game systems -- video game system
hardware stretches the head in delightful ways. Programming hardware
like that is one of my favorite hobbies. That's what made me fall in
love with programming and go on to do it professionally. I'm trying
to keep programming for money from completely replacing doing it for
fun. I have stuff needed to brew, which I have to get rid of and am
not happy about. I have stuff to rock climb which I'm keeping. I got
rid of my martial arts gi, which I'm not happy about, as getting back
into the dojo is a long term plan of mine. In this case, I'll have to
spend $80 on another one again if I reach that point, and I may or may
not accomplish what I hope to, but I'm pretty stubborn about things.
And throwing away a thing and buying a new one later is wasteful. A
lot of things are related to the cluster -- remote management, backup
power supplies, switches, ethernet cables, storage, etc all add up.
Other things are for other projects and are transient. Ultimately,
the cluster is transient. It's not a thing or collection of things
I've developed an attachment too, though it's been personally
rewarding and made for a lot of good geek conversations. I know I've
talked about my box of cables that I seem to have to dig through on a
daily basis. Objects kept for sentimental value represent a tiny
present of the stuff, so I resent the idea that getting rid of them
represents a solution.
I often say that things are only good for convenience, entertainment,
or as tools. Or something like that. Maybe I change it around. But
I still feel that way. I know which of my things are tools, which are
conveniences, and which are toys. And toys are important. I think
problems develop when people aren't honest about themselves about what
things represent to them and then buy too many toys new for too much
money, and then keep them too short of a time before getting bored of
them and throwing them away. The iPad set (and new MacBook every time
one is announced set) come to mind here. If a toy is only
entertaining for a year, it might not be a very good toy.
Having a huge population on the planet but having them only subsist
doesn't sound like a good solution. Subsistence farming families
would probably be even more enthusiastic about any new tool or toy
than an American (and from what I've read, this is the case). I don't
feel like "too many people" and "Americans buy too much stuff" is a
good rationalization for me not to get used toys and play with them
for a while and maybe pass them on again. I don't have an Xbox 360 or
a PS3 or even an Xbox. I agree that we need less consumption, but we
also need fewer people so that we can have a quality of life higher
than mere subsistence.
I don't find working purely in software to be personally satisfying.
One great thing about the Vegas gig was working with all of this
And as I said before, I think my introvert bent gives me a different
relationship with things than most people have. I know things aren't
a replacement for people, but I'm much happier to lock myself in a
room with a week with things and build, experiment, play, learn,
tinker, etc than most people are. It's personally fulfilling to me to
the point where I consider it necessary for my happiness. The
tradeoff between time and money is an important consideration. I
could pass years or maybe even a lifetime just programming on one
interesting system. Some people do. Some guys are still pushing the
limits of the Commodore 64, but I don't think I'm that hyperfocused.
So, I could get rid of the Atari 7800, but it has some really cool
video hardware and has a lot of fun potential, so I don't want to get
rid of it.
The European instinct to collect, study, preserve, steal, build up
toolsheds, etc has served us very well even if there are some
unhealthy aspects to it.
There have been points in the past where I've had projects due, but my
only power supply blew, or my only keyboard went out, or my only HD
died. Even now, especially when traveling, trying to keep the machine
running is a huge stress point. I never feel bad about my spare parts
and spare machines. Trying to adapt in the right HD, or pick a system
that can actually burn a dual layer DVD without crapping out half way
through when it realizes that it doesn't *actually* know how to do
that or can run Skype worth a damn or can take a 64 bit OS or has
enough CPU to do a chore and on and on is a daily challenge. A lot of
this could be streamlined with money, but I'm doing the best with what
I've got, and I don't want to buy a $2000 computer just to have it
break. Like with bicycles, it often makes sense to have some
I had already done a pretty good job of culling my stuff before.
While using the stuff I had, I would identify what I wasn't using or
wasn't going to get around to playing with and get rid of, on an
ongoing basis. A lot of projects, kind of like your quilt, were
neglected, but in the months leading up to when I moved out, I spent a
huge amount of time on those, and then after moving, continued to.
Those have been things like working on the blue GT or getting the
other bike light working or so on and so forth.
Also as I think I've talked about before, I've spent my entire life
trying to rationalize my stuff in hopes of being able to keep it. I
had a computer before most people did and when I was young and there
was constantly suggestions made among adults that I shouldn't have
that. Then my mother, as she has talked about, didn't understand what
any of my things where or what the stuff I wanted for my birthday or
Christmas was, so she would go on about how much something costs that
she doesn't even know what is. I had to listen for a year then that
"I had to send $70 to Germany for something Scott wanted and I don't
even know what it is!". If she were willing to spend a little time, I
could show her, but really, she doesn't care because she had already
made up her mind that it's silly. Not having my own space, I've
always had to argue about which items I'm permitted to have. My
landlady was a bad match for me (and me for her), but it was really
nice having my own space where basically no one could have opinions
about my stuff. I really, really enjoyed that. There's a lot of good
things about my present situation, but it's also very frustrating and
upsetting to me. I've tried living like a normal person and was
miserable, but I'm not doing a fantastic job of being an eccentric
either, so I have to try to stealthily pass enough as a normal person
that I can continue being eccentric with some degree of privacy and
non-interference. TBAG has been good for this. I showed up to the
meeting with a create of lights and no one said, "dude, you're weird,
you have too many lights". I know it's irrational, but what people
would think and do to me for having those lights was freaking me out
just because I've learned that you cannot safely do unusual things
without interference, and you especially can't count on support.
Having acceptance and even support for doing weird things is hugely
important to my psyche. I think this is why it's hard for me to hear
arguments about how, since it's possible to subsist minimally, people
should be subsisting minimally -- and not just in resource consumption,
but also in terms of artifacts that they dug out of the ground. This
is what really freaks me out about places like Texas -- often,
community standards of normality are severely enforced. Places like
Seattle and Minneapolis have a healthy apatite for the unusual.
I personally can't think of a better use of homemade nutella than fueling Dani's ride.
She posted about it being really cold and wondering if she was just doing it for attention, and what her ancestors would do. That made me stop and be philosophical, though of course it is all arm chair. If something is possible, people should make it a habit of doing it, just to preserve the avenue, or else mankind loses the ability. Right now, travel cross country under our own power, while awesome, is possible. The weather doesn't make it easier than when people were doing it in covered wagons, but hospitality and paved roads do. I don't know what to class this thing as, but it strikes me as valuable. Secondarily, I'm jealous. If timing had been different, I'd to think that I might have said yes when invited. People on the route who are showing hospitality aren't just showing sympathy, they're showing support for a thing that they themselves would like to have done but didn't, and hospitality to those who do is the next best thing. That's why warmshowers is awesome. We should all be warmshowers hosts when we're not touring. Most people are pretty cool, despite everything else, and this reminds us of that, and reinforces it. I don't have a good deity picked out that I can sacrifice goats to Dani to, but I'm cheering from the sidelines. Go Dani! If it gets too cold, stay somewhere for a while and let it pass.
Ahem. So those are those thoughts. Thanks for posting pictures of the MLK ride. I just got back from the Long Wongs which is a five minute walk from here. CRAP went there. One band was in from Texas. That one was a bit too country, but the first one was rockin' country and we all enjoyed it. It makes me think that a live music venue right by where I live is really dangerous. Both had double basses. Standing around buzzed listening to live music makes me philosophical. I don't think I can summarize what went through my head. I didn't take good enough notes. It made me wonder about how people got to where they are in their lives, and taking care of the people around you in your life, and doing good for people you don't know.
I soaked in the tub for a while today. I was doing email and phone most of the day. I made bread. My schedule got a bit backwards there. I'm trying to fix it. I finally got the stuff out of Guzy's that I wanted to, the other day. There's some stuff left that is intended to be shipped off but that I might have to fetch some of, so the immediate work is done. Internal voices get muted with too much businesses. Stopping to write emails and blog posts is when I regroup, lately. A lot of things are caught up, so I'll be catching on mostly different stuff for a while.
|Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013|
Ben5 made http://chicachocolatina.blogspot.com/2013/01/churro-waffles.html
for brunch Monday morning after I got back from Tucson. Delicious, but I'm more than ready for veggies again!
The "not working/parts" CF-T7 showed up yesterday. This has happened before: the "parts" machine shows up and is in vastly better condition than the machine that it is supposed to be parts for. In the past, I've taken parts off of the parts machine and kept it nice. This time, I just swapped the HD and battery over to the "parts" machine as I didn't want to spend the day transplanting the fan, yet again, and I know that it takes most of a day. That and, even though the thing looks almost new, it was only $40. One of the things that drew me to the Toughbook CF-R1 and then later T4 was the lack of a fan, because this happens to every machine I have that has a fan. I leave the thing on, use it too much, do too much computationally intensive stuff, leave too many tabs open, and there's too much dust in Arizona, and within a year, the fan eats itself. First fan in the T7 lasted for well over a year (I think), but still, it's always a problem.
Tauber was sending the CRAP announcements but failed to on account of a broken hand. Ben5 advertised it on FB as himself, but essentially, no one came besides him and I. One fixie kid who goes by the name of "youmadbro" (or something close) swung by the usual place at the usual time on a random day and caught us there and rode with is, which was kind of awesome. Fixie kid was telling us about his cargo bike and how he uses it for his window washing business. Rad.
Today: Goodwill, post office (again), haul workstations, list more hardware on eBay, hopefully pick up a load of lemons, grocery store run for the stuff that's too expensive at Sprouts, meet Sarah to post stuff on the TBAG blog and figure that out. Still itching to do much needed Bike Count IT work (grr!).
|Friday, December 21st, 2012|
UofM(N) architecture courtyard. Finals are over. The best models got taken home; the worst were abandoned.
My mother dropped her keys in the break room while at work yesterday at $large_upscale_department_store. They got taken to the lost and found, which closed before she got off work and noticed them missing. She got a ride home, and R and I got back just a bit before she called. This morning, she bummed a ride in to work, got the keys back, came back, picked us up, and dropped us off at the St.Paul UofM(N) campus. We took the bus over to the Minneapolis campus and checked out the architecture library. I moved to the courtyard after lunch. R headed out to erg on the holiday challenge. Other days have been similar: logistics eat up a lot of the day. This trip, I didn't arrange for loaner bicycles for the visit. Now I'm starting to get itchy. Old friends, my brother, R, and I hit Chatterbox pub last night and played Mario Adventure on their NES and then SJG Munchin on a table. Chatterbox midtown now owns a copy of Mario Adventure. I sold it to them for a beer. Go play it!
Met my new nephew and the older of the two again (first time he's likely to remember me) and had holiday dinners. Had dinner with my aunt. Lunched with my mother. Revisited the St. Thomas library and worked there. St. Thomas' library has changed a lot, but it's still a fascinating space. Three existing buildings got composed, care of a central structure, into one structure. The central structure's floors align with one of them. Short stairways, stairwells, and exterior walls on the interior abound. The really hard to get to hooks are now administrative offices, many former exterior walls were replaced with glass walls, and purposes were found for large spaces that formerly had no purpose. I guess the consolidation/expansion architectural project for the library allowed for a lot of growth through change.
Yesterday during the day was Angry Catfish, a coffee shop/bike shop. Like Seattle bike shops, a lot of MN shops have lots of wool, fenders, interesting rack systems, and other practical cycling wears that help make cycling comfortable as a life style. Being MN, they also have heavy lobster claw style gloves and studded snow tires, which, despite their name, are really highly desirable for ice.
It's good to be back. People are more laid back here, and quieter. Lower speed surface road traffic and quieter voices lend me a much needed feeling of serenity.
|Friday, December 7th, 2012|
Socks decorated the Meyer lemon tree. Bulbs built-in.
New Biopace on the Green Bianchi to go with the new chain. It feels strange opening 20 or 30 year old packaging.
The exhaust had to come off of the Z600 so that the left side of the engine can come off, then the clutch (ugh), so the oil pump can be inspected, but the bolts holding parts of the exhaust system together were rusted into solid little blobs. The exhaust system is in four parts, under the hood, and includes a blower, a heat exchange, the manifold, and, eh, something else. Heat for passengers comes from air warmed off of the exhaust system. The exhaust parts need to be sand blasted and chromed, but I'm holding off on doing that until at least I figure out if I can make this thing run again. I managed to get off only one bolt with a wrench, smashing the wrench with the sledge hammer and putting penetrating oil on the bolt. Another bolt got its head ripped off, which worked for getting the exhaust parts apart. The others got sawed through with a cutting disk on Socks' Dremel tool. Those are going to have be drilled out. That picture has the camshaft and valve rockers out.
|Monday, November 19th, 2012|
I hope for a day where I'm back to blogging about writing code and bicycle advocacy rather than the mis-adventures of living above a cranky old lady, or, really, about much else. Not that my personal life isn't often wonderful, but that's not what I want to talk about. Coming back to Phoenix, one of the nicest things was my Internet connection. The dedicated IP simplifies a lot of admin work. I suppose a similar fix would be VPN'ing into a work machine. I spent an evening repairing the cluster. It seems like the Nano board that's the init node can't handle two HDs plugged in at the same time even if one of them is on a completely different power supply. I initially suspected that. I need to re-move the music off of that failed second drive attempt onto a portable drive for my own use. Which I guess is to say that after a half assed but still thoroughly time consuming run, I'm shutting down the cluster experiment. The batteries in the primary UPS died anyway. The last power cycle was me removing it after it went to self test, failed, and lost power to the cluster.
|Friday, November 9th, 2012|
Today, I uploaded Code::Splice 0.02 to CPAN. 0.01 was written for perl 5.8. 5.16 came out not long ago. For those of you not involved in this crap, that was several years ago. I was horrified at the prospects of ever trying to use Code::Splice because of how broken I imagined it would be when I did due to all of the VM changes perl has undergone, but when I finally sucked it up an gave it a whirl, it only failed tone test. Well, one test out of four. It now has a project on github. Please contribute tests. I felt the need to touch it as part of working on a hack that replaces hash based objects with array based ones, transparently to the programmer. I wrote about this on Twitter plenty so go there. And, yes, really. One of the things that JS and Ruby did to get faster than Perl (we've been virtually sitting still for 20 years) is get rid of hash lookups in the "hot path". That means no hash lookups in method resolution and ho hash lookups in instance data access. My stab which only works on fairly simple classes bought 20% speed. Caching method resolution and cutting out hashes from there should do another 30%, but I needed Code::Splice running before I could tackle any of that. When I was hacking on the webwanker (language and CMS... long story), I had a Compaq Aero 4/25. The "4" is for "486" and the "25" is for "25 mhz". I allowed free use of identifiers, but it pre-resolved them to indices. Hash lookups at run time weren't even considered. And this started as a quick hack. The URI LPMUD driver from the 90's cached method resolution, too. Code::Splice isn't just a horrific obscenity. It's a direct response to thousands of reasonable, intelligent people on IRC saying "I can't do this", and reasonably intelligent, managers asking for something that otherwise couldn't be done. Swallow your medicine and stop crying and trying to play the purity card.http://code.google.com/p/google-mobwrite/wiki/Daemon
... after fixing approximately 20 places where something was hard-coded and it still wouldn't run, I started to dig into the Python. The install instructions cover approximately 3% of what needs to be done to get this to run. #3 says "Move mobwrite/daemon/q.py or q.php to somewhere that's web-executable". It doesn't mention that it only works under mod_perl, and it detects CGI access and barfs. That rules all web servers except exactly one. A home directory of a non-existent user that you're never told to create is hard-coded in there. This should have 90's era animated "under construction" gifs on it. Every single time I try to install and run python code, it completely shits itself. The inability of the Python camp to produce code that both works and is installable has to be a large part of the reason that Python is losing to Perl, which is really fucking hard to do.
I have to remember that if I get laid off, I need to talk to Apress about writing another book. That's my plan. It's a lot of ramen, but my 80's style game authoring book must see daylight.
While you're suffering, read these instructions: http://docs.cpanel.net/twiki/bin/view/SoftwareDevelopmentKit/CreatingScripts
. "Put Foo_1.0.tar.gz into the working directory. ". Okay, where does it come from? What's in it? No, you don't find out later. It stays a mystery. And then it gets worse.
I hate having an unknown amount of time to get something done. It virtually assures that any strategy I pick for approaching the problem is going to be the wrong one.
|Monday, November 5th, 2012|
Crud, this is my comments on things. You can't comment on my comments.
Looking at holiday plans, I see that I have to remember to bring my bike lights everywhere. Even if I eventually do the generator hub, which I'd like to, I'm going to be joined at the hip to the Stella and the DiNotti for a while. Often, having of two of something means often having two of them. The plan is MN then Amtrak to Seattle then somehow back again. After I kill some of the emergency backlog from being back in Phoenix, I need to start planning that.
I read a good article a while back on how an optimizing JITing Ruby implementation removes hash lookups from the code. This has a lot of implications for Perl since it uses hashes to store object instance data.
The Honda Z600... I guess I should talk about that. I was hoping, but not expecting, to drive it back to Texas. A few hundred miles out from Kansas City, the muffler fell off in the sense that the exhaust pipe broke. Later, the radio stopped working, which is kind of a bummer because working Z600 radios are rare. Right as I was coming into Texas, it killed out, and then apparently overheated and killed out on any attempt to run it after that. Something broke. I spent a few hours mucking about with fuel filters and fuel lines before deciding that it was almost certainly getting fuel and it was overheating, which is bad. I called R and she took time away from work to find a tow place near me that also dealt in U-Haul trucks. It took them four hours to get around to sending a truck out and then to find me where I was on an access road off of a cloverleaf. I talked to the tow guys about seven times while they were trying to find me. When I offered my latitude and longitude, they said "I don't know what that is". Texas. So they finally tow me in and I'm getting ready to rent a truck and the U-Haul information system wants to know what I kind of car I have before it'll rent me a tow dolly. It has the '72 Honda Z600 in its system and it won't rent me the tow dolly for it because it is too narrow to fit on it. Duh. Of course it is. So the tow company, in the Texas spirit, kind of mentions that sometimes people put cars into trucks using the flatbed wreckers. I agree, and with two spare tires for a bumper between the front of the car and the front of the back of the truck and then two sets of plastic wheel chocks, I'm off again.
I'm not sure what happened, but Google was estimating something like a 16 hour drive, and it wound up taking over two days, during which I got very little sleep. At one point, I napped in the truck. I should have just turned in for the night. It had a nice bench seat in it and I parked in front of some fast food restaurant that didn't open too early, but I had it in my head that I had to be in to work Tuesday or Monday or whatever it was and that I was running late so the second night, I again only napped. When I woke up, I had no idea where I was going other than that I was following the line on the GPS, why I was going there, why I was driving a truck, what kind of truck I was driving, how long I had been at it... I just woke up and remembered that I was supposed to be driving. It probably took me a couple of hours to piece things together but higher order reasoning wasn't there still.
Back in Bryan, I spent a week or two testing things to figure out why it was overheating: carb vacuum, fuel delivery, oil, points, coils, spark plugs, ignition timing... and came up dry. The next thing to check is valve timing. Upon pulling the valve rocker cover off, I was greeted with the sight of one of the journals clogged with metal shavings and the cam shaft journal chewed up with deep channels in it and metal dust all over. Well, fuck. I started pulling things apart and asked the N/Z600 list for advice. It took a couple of evenings to get the valve rockers and cam shaft out, which involved removing the air filter, carb (partially), and, most significantlly, the fan shroud on the back of the engine and then loosening the cam chain tensioner bolt which lives under that shround and would otherwise be inaccessible. Just getting that bolt loose took hours. Eventually, I was standing on the ratchet and it popped.
A few people strongly suggested pulling the side of the engine off and making sure the oil pump wasn't busted or its screen clogged. That involves pulling off the exhaust, which, as we've already established, is not in good shape, as well as the clutch. Attempts to detach the parts involve just resulted in stripped bolts. I was able to unbolt the exhaust from the engine but the shape of the thing absolutely does not permit extraction. I'd have to move it to the left to get clear of the engine before I could lift it out but there's too much stuff on there to manage that. Heat (for passengers) on the Z600 is provided care of a heat exchanger unit attached to the engine exhaust. It looks like I need to dremel or angle grind the bolts on the exhaust apart before I can take that out. Then if I don't want the rest of the exhaust system disintegrating, I need to have sandblasted and painted or chromed. I wonder if it was chrome to start with.
I'm contemplating pulling the engine out and having new valve guides and rings put on it, and things measured and inspected. Maybe I'll split some of the work with a local mechanic. Pulling an engine out without an engine left is a major ordeal. I'm not set up to rebore cylinders.
All over, there are little starts to rust. Dealing with that is going to be a project in itself. Rust has a grip on the bottom of it. That could make for some long evenings wire brushing the thing. Bryan is awash in muffler shops, tire shops, paint shops, and on and on. It would be nice to have it repaired. The interior was already redone.
Cruising towards Texas in a decidedly primitive and minimalistic machine was fun. The thing is about the same dimension as the (old, original) Cooper Mini except its two cylinder rather than four and Japanese. The Brits at that period hadn't figured out how to build a long running, reliable machine except that the Japanese went on to master it while the British auto makers continued to make temperamental machines that required a lot of attention, such as the Jaguar.
On one previous road trip, I ran into a guy with a 60's era Triumph motorcycle. Amazed, I asked about the logistics of road tripping on that machine. They're famous for being cranky and being made out of soft, non-harded steel and not taking miles well. His lip biting reply confirmed what an ordeal it could be.
Unlike the Cooper Mini, I don't imagine a lot of Z600s competed in rally races. Like Japanese cars of the time and for long afterward, it's underpowered. Also, with respect to the design of the engine and the build, Japan clearly hadn't yet hit the pinnacle of quality that would make Japanese cars famous. CVCC Civics often do 300,000 miles. This thing has a strong element of disposability to it. It doesn't even have an oil pressure light, nor does it maintain oil pressure. Even so, it was designed to be worked on and is built heavier than modern cars. It seems like 78,000 miles is all they do before they require serious attention, which is about what American cars of the era were doing. So, it's not just a primitive car, it's a primitive Japanese car.
So, home. My toys are here. That makes me happy. It's as quiet as a monastery. I love that. I can let my thoughts sorts themselves out and I can get lost in one project for an extended period of time. I can wear nothing but my alpaca cap and a speedo, if I want. I can leave books and computers laying around. It's also one of my major expenses and my land lady hates me and I'm tempted to get rid of it. I also have a lot of work to do -- I haven't really been writing software this last month and I still have ambitions.
Another thing that's home at the moment is one of the quad core AMD machines that made up the cluster that I pulled out so I could test the wG8 installer on a 64 bit machine with installs of various things. Need to revisit that project.
Undirected contemplation is nice... don't wanna go to bed...
|Monday, October 22nd, 2012|
Made it to and from Austin alive. Got R's bug, apparently. On the ride out, about half way through, the thought of food made me nauseous, and my resting heart rate was way up. I tried to force food down but screwed up and got trail mix that happened to have no salt in it about 50 miles in. It was hot, and I was sweating and drinking wanted but not replacing the salt, so I started cramping like nuts. My heart rate being way up meant my stomach wasn't processing what I did force into it, even when I was doing a very casual pace. By the time I was at a gas station with a little kitchen and tables in it and had ordered fries, I was grasping my leg muscles as hard as I could ineffectively trying to stave off more cramps. This was after I was chased by a very unsociable dog. The whole thing turned into a vicious cycle. Twice more on the ride out, I'd be chased by dogs. I managed to eat the order of fries, but it took me an hour and I wanted to vomit, and about half of the trail mix. The other half is still in the bottom of my pannier. The plastic bags they put those in just keep ripping once you open them and spill all over. I was alternative hot and cold and then hot and cold at the same time and my bowels wanted to do something unpleasant but thankfully never got around to it.
The route that Socks and the BCS crew put together, aside from the dogs, was a great route and a great ride. Texas has a freaky number of "farm to market" roads, county highways, and state highways. Watching the GPS as I went, there were off-shoot roads with off-shoot roads with houses off of them all over. Someone funneled huge amounts of money into building these roads. They all seem to be in fantastic repair, too. It reminds me of how housing developments spring up outside of a city, but far more distributed. After the local convenience store closed, and twice I rolled in right before they closed, the local traffic all but vanished. Everyone out here drives Ford F350s with oversized wheels or Dodge Ram 3500s with the double rear wheels and none of these people haul anything. I think I saw ten pick-up trucks actually hauling something and they were all apparently moving house except for *one* that was towing a tractor on a trailer. Country pick-ups are as under utilized as city ones. So vast numbers of people out here live in a trailer house with 100 acres of properly and drive their industrial duty pick-up truck in to "town" three times a day to pick up a meal of Doritos. I want to ask what the fucking point of this city is but I guess the Austin hipsters drinking good beer and working service industry jobs serving each other beer so they can go drink beer later is just as big of a circle jerk. I always seemed to met traffic as I was going up a steep hill and then a truck would come up behind me and we'd log jam. That happened over and over again, on the little two lane roads with no shoulder and 75 mph speedlimits. Almost without fail people gave me lots of room, and the fantastic state of repair of these billions of roads just blows my mind.
Austin TdF was awesome. The ride was great, touring downtown, uptown, cross the river, and going every which way. The people who did the ride stuck around and took in the show. The yo-yo show at the Tigre tent was just fucking epic. Got to see the whole car-for-bike trade ritual which was intense. TdF actually puts on a hell of a show. You wouldn't know it from working in the beer booth. Austin also poured each beer on demand with about five people working one beer booth. Was fun hanging with the carnies in a more chill environment. Austin's way chill and full of very reasonably priced foodie haunts that seat scores of people. It seems to have more a health, fitness, and hippyism thing going than Tempe. Caught lots of rowing action and crew practice in the many trips over the bridges.
I was iffy about coming back and having to deal with my stomach again. After brunch, I was a little wosey, but once I got on the road, I was fine. It was just a long ride with just me, one chase dog, and the GPS. I tried to make up for last meals. It got cold on the ride out and I had to put almost all of my gear on (yay fuzzy tights) but the ride back, I t-shirt and bib-shorted it the whole way.
Crap, almost 4am! Better go to sleep. So nice to be home...
|Tuesday, September 25th, 2012|
|Saturday, September 22nd, 2012|
State of the desk:
The RD3D (the machine twith the autostereo 3D LCD, which originally sold for $4,000 odd) is the dedicated youtube music video player. Gnutella has degenerated to the point and youtube advanced to the point where it's easier to sample music this way. Fluffy's CPU fan is out (boy was annoyed when I got this thing and found out it had a fan, unlike previous generations of Toughbook T and R series) so I have a small muffin fan forcing air into its vent. With the XOrg Intel video driver actually working and not hard-locking the machine on startup, I can dual-monitor it! *And* compiz! I'm in pointless GUI eyecandy heaven. Upgrading to Linux 3 seems to be part of it. Also, Post-It Notes.
The CF-T4 (T7 in the center) is being my Debian guinea pig, and will soon be the RedHat guinea pig for the wG8 installer. It's also doing gtk-gnutella. Every machine is partially involved in the audio madness. The not-picture P4 Celeron to the left on the bakers rack was the audio machine and was plugged into the stereo, but I stole the cord away from it and now plug the cord around into the CD discman style player (recently added from Goodwill for $1.99), the Diamond Rio MPM300 mp3 player (recently upgraded with a 32meg card), the RadioShack Stereo-Mate walkman-style tape player, and the Cowan iAudio 7 mp3 player. After 9pm, during quiet hours, the X-Mini speaker takes over for the stereo. The RD3D plays music off of youtube, fluffy holds the master copy of my collection of favorites, the collection of favorites has outgrown the 4gig iAudio7, I've been using the T4 to rip CDs... I really need to put another HD in the P4 Celeron and make it the file server. Every last one of the systems except the cluster is outgrowing its HDs.
So, here I am, drinking an Arrogant Bastard, which the Fry's across the street finally gave up on trying to charge $7.50 for and marked back down to $5 after months, trying to fix my perl install. Some Moose dep or something is out of date and the minimal version isn't specified high enough, or something else is brain damaged or corrupt, so I have to do hacky stuff to make cord work for me that works for everyone else: https://gist.github.com/3085341
. For months, I've been putting off blowing away my /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl directory and reinstalling it all with cpan's autobundle feature. Autobundle didn't work for about five different reasons but it seems to be fucking up its way along now and getting about half of them installed again. Perl, your hubris has resulted in garbage. Like any other upgrade attempt, I'm going to be recovering from this one for months. Not even has all of the time in the world to fuck around with your dodecahedral wheels. Since the last time I used Java, you no longer have to set your CLASSPATH to point to bundled, system jars. Hanging out with people who have effectively no ambition has been a nice break from the Perl world.
I can't run wG8 because my Moose is fud, and I've been meaning to merge in some fixes to wG8 for a long time, so here I am, blowing away my site_perl and watching a thousand modules vomit all over themselves. Total yak shaving.
|Friday, September 7th, 2012|
reddit ran this Calvin & Hobbs
Thinking about AZ-TX travel logistics again. I've got the motorcycle. I'm pretty sure it needs piston rings on #4. (Don't ask me how I know that.) Either that or a valve guide is shot and needs to be replace, or something similar. But I'm pretty sure it's piston #4. It's an 18 hour drive. 6 hour shifts, which is pushing it, is three days. 4 hour shifts, which is more comfortable (if you're in the habit of riding -- which I am not -- three hours to Flag beat me up, but there were also high winds that day and coming down the I-17 on a motorcycle I always found harrowing). The upshot of running it needing new piston rings is that it burns oil, which I feel bad about. If the motorcycle were in Houston, I could come in on Amtrak and hop on it, but it isn't practical to transport a bicycle on it, and that's how I get to Amtrak in Maricopa. I could take the GT and leave it locked up out front, I suppose.
In Minneapolis, I lived for quite a while in an apartment complex with evil management (which seems to be the norm, nation wide, and is well worth taking efforts to avoid) who would tow things out of the apartment lot for any reason at all. My brother's van and my motorcycle were both registered to be parked in our spot, and we parked them both easily in the spot (it was the original Toyota Van, which is pretty tiny, being perhaps only sightly larger than a microbus). That was enough for them to decide that it was okay to tow us. They used the company that was on the news for giving kickbacks to management companies for towing people and charging exorbitant rates. So, one winter, the motorcycle lived in the living room, which was great because I could do some much needed mechanical work on it. (No roommates in the history of renting trashed a carpet as thoroughly as we did, or poured so much boiling water on a carpet and wetvac it out in attempt to repair the damage). The following summer, I bought a month-by-month parking pass at a commercial lot across the street that catered to people who commuted in to downtown Minneapolis, which is my long way of saying that maybe I need to do the same thing in Houston and stick the motorcycle there. I've written before about how connecting from College Station to Houston has two legs and often involves a $50 cab fare because the city bus decides to knock off for the day, apathetic to the fact that I have to catch a train.
Yeah, this makes my head hurt, too. So maybe I should buy this thing and stick it in College Station: http://arizona.locateanyauto.com/automobiles/1972-honda-z-600-coupe.html
. Since one drunken CRAP at TT Roadhouse (it's always an ugly night at TT) when I was on my standard old rant of how late 1970's Japanese cars got 50mpg without the benefit of computer controlled fuel injection and someone mentioned the original Japanese imported car, I've been slightly obsessed the Honda 600, which isn't saying a lot because at any given moment, I'm slightly obsessed with a small pile of things. This thing has a two cylinder engine and gets 70mpg if you keep it at/under 35mph. It has a top speed of 75mph. I'm not sure I'd want to do AZ-TX in it more than once if I could help it, but it might be good for parking in downtown Houston or else fetching me from B/CS, with my bike. It might also be tolerable for trips to the Midwest from TX. It would be good for ski trips, which I have done on the motorcycle but wouldn't attempt if there was snow on the road up to Snobowl. I've done snow on the motorcycle. It's okay at 7mph. The rich kids with lifted 4wds like to take the Snobowl road at 45. I got sprayed with gravel on the motorcycle when I was doing the limit of 35. Bah, fucking motorists. Since parts are in short supply, it would be impractical to log many miles on it. The Nighthawk has been good to me. I put about 50,000 miles on it with only routine maintenance and I've had it for ten years. The motorcycle would probably be a more reliable ride to TX. If I'm going to blow money, I should blow it on an engine rebuild for the Nighthawk, which I've been putting off. As usual, I'm being illogical and frivolous. Still, there's a temptation to make my life easier without selling out entirely.
I was also threatening to buy an RV. For the same price, I seem to be able to pick up an 80's smaller RV. I'm not sure if that would be more or less practical, which kind of says something.
|Sunday, September 2nd, 2012|
|The Magic Fish
"The Magic Fish is a classic fable of greed that all people (not just children!) should read and familiarize themselves with. An old fisherman and his crabby, demanding wife live by the sea. She demands that he go catch some fish, and the fisherman snags a bug-eyed, yellow talking magic fish. The Fish is really a prince, and the fisherman frees him. His wife, angry that he returned empty handed, demands that he go back and demand a pretty house from the fish. Her wish is granted."
"One can see where this leads to: the wife continually demands more and more wonderful things for herself (is this where the term "fishwife" came from??) until the magic fish becomes angry and takes EVERYTHING back. The fisherman, who meanwhile didn't WANT to keep going back to the magic fish, was perfectly happy with what he already had."
This was one of my children's books when I was a kid and I think it made quite an impression on me. Another was The Diggingest Dog but I'll save that for another post. If I'm happy with my few year's out of date laptop or my slightly beat up 90's bicycle, it probably has something to do with this fable. Sometimes lack of the right tool or machine causes much work, frustration, or grief. Sometimes not being able to take the ski trip I want to leaves me sad... but I usually feel like that it's destructive to resent the lack of things. There's nothing special about me where I automatically deserve a ski holiday or an Xbox 360 and precisely this attitude allows me to be happy when I do have something.
I didn't finish my compsci degree (though I did manage to sneak in some 3000 and 4000 level classes). Not having my dog was really hard for me. I didn't make the best technology choices with respect to a stable, well paying job. Sometimes I give myself enduring injuries. It's hard to have and maintain close connections to people living in Phoenix. I'm not happy about that stuff, but I try to stop short of resentment.
But I don't mean to moralize here because it's all more complicated than that. The children's book needs another chapter. Dealing with various managers at past companies, with clients, with neighbors who don't give a damn about anyone but themselves, and so on, it seems clear to me that people who at least maintain an outward facade of dissatisfaction do successfully get a lot more of what they want.
I've written before about clients who threatened to sue because I or my company didn't do work for them, for free, that would theoretically allow them to make money. That, if there were any legal basis for it or if I were dumb enough to fall for it, would be slavery. Trying to deal with people who are profoundly dissatisfied is extremely difficult, and people know how to work this. These guys do generally eventually succeed in duping some technology outfit into doing work for them without a contract and not paying for it. Working in the tech industry, it seems like half of the company's out there missions are to get themselves screwed. I enjoyed the _Fuck You, Pay Me_ talk and associated meme that was going around a while ago. That talked about how it isn't just important to have a contract and to be proud of your work and to demand payment, but how there's absolutely nothing wrong with that and you shouldn't be shy or ashamed of any of it.
Looking back, it was always the clients who say "you're great, we absolutely love you!" who were the most likely to just simply not ever pay that one big invoice for the work they had you doing for a long time. Clearly this is "we live you when you're doing what we want", not "you're like a brother to us", with the implication being that the affection is opportunistic.
I think disinterest in these games is a lot of what defines an introvert. Why put huge amounts of effort into making these elaborate deals when you can do reasonably well for yourself on your own? I think this used to work pretty well for our ancestor introverts. The introverts would devise pit traps for catching boars and wonderful things like that while everyone else was arguing about who owed everyone else how much meat. Modern introverts tend to gravitate towards computers. They can work hard for long hours figuring out solutions to problems and doing, directly, with their own brains, something useful in the process.
Perhaps more introverts should be working on the problem of efficient homesteading rather than programming. Programming, unless you can pull everything together (art, marketing, etc) to get some new service or app to be profitable, requires working for someone. If the company you're working for is a service, like Shopzilla, then the management is the client, effectively. If you're working for a software shop that itself sells programming as labor, then the client is external. Either way, it is seldom a spirit of earnest collaboration but a game where the client is trying to hustle and the other guy is trying to make a buck. I put forth that this is bad for introverts -- the people who are most often drawn to programming.
Unhappiness (through self importance and entitlement) seems to have become an integral part of American culture, which might be okay, except that, if I'm right, this is really bad for introverts.
For the next chapter of _The Magic Fish_, where children learn that being unhappy often does get you stuff, maybe the wife needs to remarry someone who doesn't need magic fish to get her a big house. Or maybe she goes and makes one final deal with the fish under threat of death to it. Or maybe she joins privileged high society based on her reputation from entertaining during the period of time that she did have riches and becomes a politician. I feel like children should know both sides of the argument here.
People writing introverts will often make brief statements such as "being around other people is draining to introverts" but I see less said about why. Introverts are probably a whole array of different but related cases, but I can make some general guesses here. Besides being interested in finagling things though social games, most people lack sincerity when they make plans or talk about doing something. Most people are more interested in talking about stuff than doing it. Most people repeat ideas without testing them, creating a sort of wall of noise. I myself thoroughly enjoy quietly working around other people who are doing the same, in addition to sometimes just being alone and sometimes drinking and being around people and just being silly. Being alone all of the time isn't an ideal and it happens more than I'd like for lack of groups of quiet workers, quiet readers, or so on.
When things aren't going how I'd like, I always have this feeling of having a lot of work to do. I need to re-tool on technology if I'm going to have more free time and money to make other parts of my life go. I need to get out of the house and go to stuff if I'm going to have people in my life. Most of all, I need to invent stupid things. Why else am I here?
|Saturday, August 18th, 2012|
On my Debian-GNU/Linux cursed Toughbook, Flash very rarely works, at least with respect to audio. Precious few apps I can install work with ALSA. It seems like there are about ten software programs out there at any given moment that know how to navigate the labyrinth that is ALSA, and they aren't always the ones that you'd guess. I've been using mpg321 to play mp3s and mplayer to play video, including Flash. Using an older version of the Macromedia Flash player, cd'ing into /tmp and ls -tlc'ing, I can find the flv that the Flash plugin is unsuccessfulying trying to play and play it, to watch video on youtube. mplayer is an edge case, though. It'll work, and then with no change on the system that I'm aware of (no packages upgraded), it'll stop working -- audio will simply go away. mpg321 will still work, provided that nothing else is running that's trying to use audio. Rebuilding mplayer from a different version with different config parameters will sometimes make it stat working again. I have a strong hunch that rebooting the laptop would make it work but I don't care to explore that. Having my environments set, screen session, and vi's open, with everything in the right directories, is far more important. The primary purpose of this machine is editing and testing code.
If I leave the house, I take my Cowan iAudio 7 with me and plug my Grado Labs phones into it. It has a better DAC than the laptop anyway, and it's UI, though not great, beats mpg321's. I haven't figured out a way to reliably skip to the next song in mpg321 without it getting confused about whether it's skipping to the next song or exiting.
Digging through the closet of the mainroom, which has been almost entirely taken over with electronics, cables, and bulk rice and beans, I found my first mp3 player -- the Diamond Rio PMP300. It's 32 megs of built-in flash memory started getting dodgy towards the end there so it was an ordeal to reload new tracks onto it. Sitting in libraries writing code for work with my shitty Toshiba Satellite laptop (I'm so glad I swore off of budget laptops), I'd load a CD onto it from mp3s over the parallel port of the computer (aka the printer port -- no, you don't have one -- computers stopped having these a long time ago) and listen to it a couple of times, and then stop and load something else, because, of course, the sound card on the laptop didn't work in Linux, and the Linux audio stack was a damn mess that nothing worked right with.
The more things change, the more they stay the same, I guess. But now the mp3 player has gobs of memory, but there's more stuff on line I'm inclined to want to listen to -- soundcloud or whatever it is, and Amazon, garageband, and youtube, and so on.
Oh, and right now, the previous Toughbook, the T4, is on the desk, also running Debian Linux, and guess what, almost none of the audio apps work. The only thing I can find that plays CDs without massive stutter is SoundJuicer, but I can't find a thing that plays mp3s without serious problems. Both of these things have extremely popular Intel integrated chipsets. Linux users lie like Windows users to lie about the stability and usability of their OS. All of your denial impede any real progress and I hate you all.
Of course, I was being stubborn before. If I had just ran the copy of Windows ME that the Toshiba came with, none of that would have been a problem. But other things would have been problems. But I'm actually still just being difficult. The correct, sane thing to have done would have been to buy a CD disc-man type player and carry around CDs, or, failing that, carry around a tape player and tapes. And I did the latter quite a bit -- but for some reason, I felt the need to try to make the Diamond Rio workable, even though it only had 32 megs of RAM. That would have been perfectly reasonable for jogs, much like the Motorola MotoActv wrist watch (which runs Android!... but suffers from a long series of pathological problems, requiring about 300 device drivers to work being among them). Early adopters wind up spending all of their time just dicking with technology. Which is part of why I've been avoiding any modern PC gaming like the bloody plague.
A while back, I bought the Humble Indie Bundle, which supposedly runs on Linux. It doesn't. I had purchased earlier individual indie games that claimed to run on Linux only to be treated from immediate and massive stack traces from Mono or wine.
The other night, feeling especially unmotivated, I deciding to work on this problem by throwing money at it, so I was shopping for Android devices, figuring that that was as close as I'd get to an open source platform that could actually, you know, show youtube videos, and discovered a series of Chinese $60-ish set-top TV boxes modeled after the AppleTV that ran Android. I have one Windows 2003 Server machine here but it's too slow to play videos (1.6ghz Pentium 4 Celeron -- it has 32k of I and 32k of D cache, and that's it). When I ordered the Via Nano mainboard, the plan was to upgrade the Winders machine and put the P4Celeron back into service as the root node of the OpenSSI cluster, but when trying to boot Windows on it, it just locked up. Hours and hours of bootloader parameter futzing and then desperately installing from scratch again (oh god no, even though I have a real license that's mine, dealing with Windows Genuine Advantage takes a whole bloody day) and I discover that installing a second Winders on the same machine gives you two installs that sit next to each other, and all of the software on the machine is installed for the first, not the second, so I'd still have to re-install everything. I did not want to spend days digging around for installation CDs and licenses. So, Windows stayed on a machine too slow to play internet music.
It's stuff like this that makes me realize that I habitually spend too little money and far too much time on tech. If I were like everyone else, I'd been on my fifth Android phone by now. So I ordered the damn Android thing from Chiuna. $60 is still less than anything but the lowest end used Android devices, right? And it runs 4.0 and has a 1.5ghz CPU, it says! I might actually hook it up to the TV. Immediately after I did that (my brain plays tricks on me), I realized that the Sharp RD3D, which I seldom get out, has quite a fast Pentium 4 CPU, but I never hook it up to the Internet because it's loaded with all of Sharp's custom software for using the 3D auto-stereo (no glasses) display. I thought, what the hell, I want to listen to some Internet Flash music. I'm putting it on the Internet. I don't care. So I did. And it works great. Windows XP got the latest Firefox and Flash and VNC and I'm controlling it with x2vnc like I do with the other Winders and I stayed up late catching up Internet videos. How much more lazy can you get?
You're exactly right -- that's how lazy -- PC gaming. I thought I'd give Portal and Steam a whirl. This is the Vietnam part of my story, which happens in every one of my stories. Portal is $9.95. Can't beat that, and I keep hearing about this amazing game. About four hours of doing Steam shit (agreeing to the license five times, restarting the installer, being forced to try to create a new account by the installer even though I did online, it failing because I have an account and then forcing me not once but three times to recover my password before I can use it, and so on) and I have the Steam desktop thingie running on my Sharp RD3D. Man, I can't believe that "desktops" are still in vogue on the PC, years later. It used to be that you had a Palm Desktop and your Avantgo Desktop, and on and on. No one could just make an app, they had to make a whole desktop. And they still do that. And everyone, including Microsoft, still tries to ell you crap in the skeeziest manner possible, endlessly. You have to say no to sinstalling things over and over and over again. Microsoft was trying to give me toolbars and A/V software and herd me through special offers in the most aggressive fashions.
So, finally, Portal finishes downloading after lots of clicking all over the place, and it goes through a long loading sequence... and crashes, with a memory pointer error. This I don't want to describe in detail because its' as painful as you can imagine -- I spend more hours going through the online support stuff, upgrading drivers on the RD3D, turning things off in the game, in Windows, changing settings, uninstalling applications, changing my startup, and on and on and on -- and it doesn't fix it. It still crashes at exactly the same point with a memory pointer error. This game is several years old. It's retrogaming at this point. XP has been around for ages. I've got the latest DirectX for XP. I've sold my soul to the devil to play this -- this setup as vanilla as you can get. I'm not even trying to run games on Linux.
In other news, the RD3D has a SmartMedia card slot, along with a CF card slot and an XD card slot (remember those? bet you aren't that old!) and I got a cheap 32meg external Flash memory card for Diamond Rio PMP300. Next time I want to waste a whole boatload of time to accomplish absolutely nothing, I think I'll take the old riotools software and update it to write to the card by way of the USB interface to the SmartMedia card rather than over the parallel port so that I stuff 32 megs of music at a time onto the external card for the thing (it also has 32 internal). I live for these small, infrequent tastes of success and I'm not afraid to lower my ambitions really, really low to get them.