August 2008 Archives

saint-rms.jpg tuesday afternoon i had the chance to see richard stallman speak at rice university. i'd missed him the evening before when he was speaking at the houston java users group. i went to rice with a few folk i work with. the picture is near the end of speech, where stallman was doing his saint ignatius shtick. (that halo is actually an old disc platter.)

stallman is...a visionary, a prophet, a polarizer, and a bit of a crackpot. he's very dogmatic about his views, but he's thought about and argued them a lot, so you're probably not going to surprise him. his personality seemed to be typical tech culture intelligentsia -- kind of abrasive, but the focus is on being right, not being flowery. he also seemed defensive sometimes, but given his views and the arguments i'm sure he must engender it's not too surprising. he also has a pretty typical i.t.-ish sense of humor. (maybe that's because he's helped create it.) he was fun to listen to. one of the people i went with later described it as thus: "it must have been sort of like hearing Jesus speak: 'wow, that sounds great! incredible! ...but...it's totally unattainable.'"

however you view it, i think this is a respectable trait about stallman: he lives what he preaches. he isn't like a lot of visionaries who talk the talk but are hypocrites when it comes to living it. (i put hard-line libertarians into this category as well.) a lot of people complain about his not just giving up on the fact people call the linux kernel plus all other packages "linux" but i think he's got legitimate reasons. (even if i think it's a quixotic quest at this point.)

say whatever you want about his kookiness or such, the fact is he has had a huge effect in the i.t. community. and because i.t. has changed the world around us in so many ways over the last 40+ years (especially the last 15), stallman -- through gnu software and the gpl -- has had a large influence, both directly and indirectly. i'm glad i had a chance to hear him speak.

now 140 pixels wider! (that's 17.5%!)

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a couple of people mentioned to me that my comment preview button was no longer working after my upgrade to movable type 4.2. after googling the error message and variations on it a few times, i discovered some things had changed and i needed to update some stuff. i started that, then i discovered i had a number of system templates missing. what to do? well, i could restore to default, or refresh. refresh sounded like a safe option...certainly better than restoring the default...what with the custom config to make my blog look unique. i hit refresh and...there were all the default templates. huh.

apparently the difference between restore to default and refresh is that restore wipes the slate clean and leaves you with only the unmodified default templates while refresh replaces all default templates with the unmodified defaults but doesn't wipe user-created templates. that's not exactly what i thought it meant.

fortunately, it asked if i wanted to backup templates before refreshing and i agreed, so i had copies of the templates it overwrote. but that meant i had a generic blog with none of my customizations. i could move the old stuff back and still have some broken parts, or i could take my changed versions and incorporate the changes into the latest templates.

i chose the latter, and spent several hours today working on it. while making the changes, i also chose to go to a 3-column format instead of 2. which means the blog got wider. hopefully people who read my blog are hip and with the times and have monitors set to handle a screen size larger than 800x600. (or enjoy horizontal scrolling. freaks.) i've gotten most of the css decent on the main page, but the archives/comments stuff is crap. i'm working on that.

i've got some stuff to blog about, but i'm going to go back to working on the blog css and templates.

something is missing

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last week on sunday or something i watched smokey and the bandit. it'd been years since i'd seen it. i was kind of surprised by how well it's held up. it's still funny. cheaply done, kind of silly, but fun. jackie gleason is awesome as sheriff buford t. justice. and jerry reed does a wonderful job as the truck driver. i recommend it.

tuesday night i drove down to the potts on my motorcycle and traded it for their mini-van. i drove it to hobby airport and picked them up there. they were flying back into town after being up in the northeast visiting family. it was drizzling (unlike when i took the motorcycle to their house), so they ended up dropping me off at my house (and i'd pick up the motorcycle sometime later).

wednesday, of course, i sold my soul as my previous blog entry and photo showed. i kind of had a mental meltdown wednesday night after selling my soul. i wasn't sure i was really making the right decision. i talked to a couple of people wednesday night, as well as talking to some people at work on thursday. in the end i mostly stayed the course, although i went and had a talk with my manager about exactly what i was looking to do. i'm hoping that cleared up things on both sides and will set a future course for me that works out for both sides.

also on wednesday, i was wearing my red and black dickies shirt, and since it was supposed to rain i carried my umbrella. which is also red and black. then i had my new iphone case...also red and black. so i had a lot of red and black. i joked about it when i got to the radio station, so jay had me go outside and represent and he took a pic. he uploaded it to flickr and added some lol-text. then dwight used the pic in an article about the fact that he picked up a case like mine (although a different color). i'm not sure this is how i wanted to be known.

they had a silent auction last week at work for some surplus office equipment (mostly filing cabinets) and i got a pretty nice dark grey five-drawer teknion cabinet for $30. that's a pretty good price, considering they sell new for like $1500 or something (even used is usually a few hundred). now i just need to get it home.

a while back i ordered a few dvds and cds from amazon. here are the dvds i got:

  • airplane! (don't call me shirley! edition) - zucker/abrahams/zucker (paramount)
  • anchorman - (dreamworks)
  • anchorman - wake-up ron burgundy - (dreamworks)
  • hackers - (mgm/united)
  • three o'clock high - (universal)
  • top secret! - (paramount)

the first two i actually already had copies of, but i bought replacements. also, by re-buying anchorman i was able to buy a two-pack with a dvd called wake-up ron burgundy. it's got a bonus feature, outtakes and deleted scenes, awards speeches, etc. i think it'll be pretty funny. i've been meaning to pick up hackers since it is sort of a computer culture have-to-have, even though it's kind of silly. at least it uses angelina jolie as an alterna-hacker chick, which helps. three o'clock high was a movie i was introduced to by ash, years after it'd been out. he was a big fan of it and quoted it liberally, so i felt like i already knew the movie before i ever even saw it. in fact, i bought a dvd copy of it for him years ago for his birthday (i think that was the occasion). and top secret! is a zucker / abrahams / zucker job (like airplane!).

here are the cds i got:

  • nauru - coppe (mango & sweet rice) 2003
  • 8 - coppe (mango & sweet rice) 2004
  • oscillation of matter - oofm with coppe (mango & sweet rice) 1997/1998
  • stars on the wall - the go find (morr music) 2007

i had been interested in coppe after hearing her stuff on either lush or digitalis (soma fm channels). it's pretty quirky electronic stuff, mixing lots of styles. unfortunately, she moved to japan, so all of her albums on her website are $20 plus shipping and handling. fortunately for me, i found copies of a number of them on amazon at much better prices. the only surprise was i ordered what was listed as a self-titled album (which would be her first album) but ended up with nauru. which is okay, since i didn't have it and i got it really cheap. i'm pretty sure i heard the go find on digitalis. they're electro indie alterna music, sort of like the postal service and such. nice stuff.

i also picked up a red swingline stapler from amazon. something for my desk, and a sort of secret handshake of sorts to see how many other office space fans i work with. i took it to work today, and the answer to how many people i work with are familiar with office space is: a lot. numerous people were quoting lines from the movie when they saw the stapler on my desk. as a joke, hidden under the rubber non-skid pad i wrote "milton waddams" in sharpie and then put a line through it and wrote my name.

saturday the hrc and her mini-me helped me pick up my bel-air from the shop. he pretty much completely rebuilt the brakes, using all the parts that the bel-airs used (i.e., no switch to disc brakes). he also cut the brackets and removed the blocks to lift the back end of the car so the vehicle is now level instead of dragging its butt. i talked to him about the engine. it sounds like a new engine may be a fair bit more expensive than i thought. we'll see. he is supposed to call me and let me know about a place in town that does rebuilds. he was guessing a rebuild might run around $2k, but he wasn't sure.

sunday i drove the bel-air to the hot bagel shop for a bagel, then a while later sue came by and picked me up and we went back to their house. i ate a late lunch with them and then hung out for a few hours. it'd been awhile since i'd hung out with them. then i jumped on the motorcycle and headed back to my house.

"signed" in blood* (the proof)

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signed-in-blood.gif

* okay, so i didn't actually sign it in blood. i didn't really have any kind of writing implement appropriate for such things (like a quill pen). so i approximated and put a fingerprint in blood over my signature instead. should be just as binding, right?

I just sold my soul

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well, I did. after years of avoiding microsoft products at all costs, I just agreed to move into a role at work that will make me intimately involved with numerous ms products. on the escalated priveledges form, I signed it and then pricked my left ring finger and put a fingerprint in blood over my signature.

and as if selling my soul were't bad enough, I was forced to each lunch by myself.

(I typed this on my iPhone, via a nice blog plug-in that gives a special iPhone interface. it doesn't make typing large amounts of text on an iPhone any easier or. more fun though.)

movies are expensive these days

dwight saw my iphone cover at the radio show wednesday night and was enamored by it. he evidently is planning on getting himself one. at first he was pitching getting the same exact one as mine, but later he said he was thinking he'd get the all black.

thursday evening i made some online purchases from amazon and a cigar shop. i'll provide more details once things arrive.

friday i was working maintenance, so it gave me a chance to do stuff during the day. i decided to eat with the hrc at a place called little hip's diner on westheimer, to be followed by a stop at nearby catalina coffee. (the hrc is sort of a coffee fiend.) unfortunately, little hip's appeared to be closed. i don't know if that's permanent or not. that threw off the whole sequence of planned events. fortunately, we were able to adapt and went to star pizza a little further down the road. which gave us the chance to swing by catalina.

i thought i recalled mentions of a drink called a "black and white" when doing google searches, so that's what i ordered. and i described it as half coffee and half milk. but when i was searching today i saw no such references online. i'm not sure where i saw that now. that might explain why the barista was perplexed by my order. nevertheless, i got what i wanted. the hrc had a latte, and was pleased by it. (catalina tends to garner very positive comments from coffee snobs throughout houston.)

today i got up and decided i wanted to see a movie. i narrowed it down to american teen and man on wire, both of which were showing at river oaks. unfortunately, both of them were showing in the upstairs theaters, which i don't like as much because they feel too small to me. but they were what seemed interesting of the available showings today. i decided on american teen. but when i got to river oaks, it turns out their downstairs (main) theater was having sound problems, so they'd moved the downstairs movie upstairs and were alternating the other two films in the second upstairs theater. as luck would have it, the time i went to was man on wire's slot. so i paid to see it. afterward i decided to go ahead and watch american teen as well. luck surprised me -- they'd gotten the audio working in the main theater, and had decided to play american teen down there. so i got to see the movie i'd most wanted to see on the big screen, instead of one of the smaller ones. both movies were pretty good, but i think i liked man on wire better. it's the story of the guy who clandestinely put a tight-rope up across the twin towers back in 1974 and spent awhile up there on it. it was a pretty cool documentary about him and the people that worked with him and helped him, as well as the planning and execution of the event itself. american teen is a documentary about some kids during their senior year of high school in indiana. it was interesting seeing the different personalities and remembering some of my own high school days. usually i sit through the credits, but they turned the film off not long into the credits. evidently there is an epilogue with a "where are they now?" bit, from what i've read online. that would have been nice to see. oh well.

in both movies, i reminded myself of why i don't normally get a drink. i hadn't eaten or drank anything today, so i got a tea before the first movie (they don't have coffee). i still hadn't eaten by the second film, so i got a coke. in both cases i think i made it between 1 and 1.5 hours before i had to leave the theater for a bit. i hate having to do that. so, no more buying drinks before movies.

movable type 4.2

oh yeah. i also decided to upgrade my movabletype software today. (i upgraded it before posting the last entry, so by "today" i mean the 12th.) and it just happened to be the day they released movabletype 4.2. (i had no idea. i just went to the site to get the most recent version.) i guess i'm bleeding edge now. the upgrade appears to have gone okay. it'll take me a bit to get used to the different look than what i'm used to. there shouldn't be much (if any) noticeable change to you at this point, i don't think.

a few days ago i watched lords of dogtown. it's about the shifting of the skate scene from civilized to renegade started by the zephyr shop team (which included tony alva, jay adams, and stacy peralta). the script was written by stacy peralta. the story was pretty good, but the style was a little too much for me. it was kind of like they took a skater video and made it last 2 hours. it seemed like in every scene all z-boys and co. must be doing something extreme and crazy while everyone else stands around and looks confused, shocked, and/or offended. it was just a little too much. they couldn't just skate down a street, they had to knock things over and do "x-treme!" things the whole time. they couldn't just ride in a car or get out of it, they had to jump and scream and hit things. i guess i understand they were trying to capture an overall vibe or feeling from that time period in their lives, but it seemed a bit much. or maybe i'm just not extreme enough to "get it".

sunday afternoon i went and watched the imax version of the dark knight. it cost me $14. i'm not sure if it was worth that, but it was very good. very dark, but i think it was appropriate. heath ledger's joker was wonderful. it's got a lot of action sequences, but i'd heard some people say it was empty otherwise -- i didn't find that to be the case. batman, the joker, and two-face -- as well numerous other characters -- had the opportunity to make statements that explained their basic philsophical views that define them. i personally found two-face's perspective versus batman's a very interesting thing to consider. while in the theater, i began to wonder how many other people watching it could so easily identify with two-face. meaning, i could empathize with his character quite a bit. while i (and i assume most other people) would like to imagine themselves to have the makeup of batman, i found myself feeling it would be very easy for me to assume the position of harvey dent given the circumstances. anyway, i just thought the movie wrestled with some deep concepts about how we view the world and our response to it. in the middle of a bunch of fight and action sequences. (and yes, there are plenty of places that require some suspension of disbelief. it's based on a comic book...hello?) i was pleased overall.

(possibly very minor spoiler: oh yeah...and i prefer to think the joker's detonators on the ships were actually for their own ship. it was never hinted at or revealed that i recall, but i like that idea. wouldn't the joker relish someone destroying themselves after anguishing over a decision and deciding to destroy someone else? it seems like yet another nice twist.)

pete from european autoworks called me today and told me my brakes were messed up and needed work. so i gave him the phone numbers of a couple of places that sell '55-'57 chevy parts. he also said my engine had bad compression in one cylinder. bad luck. so i'm thinking instead of rebuilding or working with an engine i don't know the history of, i may just go ahead and plop in a new crate engine. i'm sure pete will have more to tell me in the next few days.

after searching for ways to get access to my old .pst files, i came across a nice page (slipstick.com) that explained how to install outlook 97 via grabbing some exchange 5 service pack files of the microsoft download site. i did it and it worked. i actually didn't care about outlook, just getting it installed so i could attach the personal folder pst files to it and then export them to outlook express. (where i'll move them via imap over to google app mail accounts.) rock and roll.

today i went down to the potts' house to get their mail and check on some stuff. of course, i didn't have a working key to their house so that added some complexity to things. once done, i used my being over in that part of town as an excuse to eat supper at sylvia's enchilada. mmmm.

and finally...on monday my new iphone case arrived. i can now reveal...it's the capsule rebel by switcheasy. the one i got is the "devil", which is the red and black one. after being with it two days, i can say so far i think it rocks. i've gotten mostly positive comments (including "darth maul" references), but personally i think it looks more like some kind of weird mechanical red and black trilobite. (that's a good thing.) whatever the case, i like it a lot. it feels good, it fits snugly, it doesn't add much bulk to the phone. and it definitely is unique looking. (despite the annoying "rebel" moniker, which overplays the uniqueness card it rightfully deserves.) it also comes with some nice extras (like a universal dock adapter, video dock stand, and power connector slot protector).

friday i took off from work a couple of hours early and took the bel-air to european autoworks. i was trying to decide between taking it there or to rms (which i took my pickup to for the brake work). in the end i decided to try pete at european. i'm curious to see how it works out, since both times i went there he kind of talked negatively about my car. but maybe that's just his way. he was recommended by someone who has a '66 chevy pickup and had work done there. he's looking at the brakes and engine performance, and possibly re-adjusting the back end to its normal height (it was lowered by a previous owner because he liked the sled look, but i don't).

friday evening was barrett and amanda's wedding. the ceremony was up in plantersville, so i decided to not make that drive. i almost talked myself out of going to the reception as well, which was at the majestic downtown. (i have to feel "up" and comfortable to want to go do social things if i'll be around a bunch of people i don't know.) i was a couple of hours late and missed the dinner and such, but made it in time to see jay and cynthia and dwight, and hear disco expressions. i talked with barrett for awhile and gave him a cigar. once it was over they were going to continue at dean's. i waited outside the majestic and smoked a cigar, but then my social aversion got the better of me (since i figured i wouldn't really know anyone very well other than the people who got married) and i bailed. i went to frank's and had a slice of pizza, then i went home.

yesterday i went over to a co-worker's house and hung out with some people from work. i played rock band and acted stupid on sing star, and generally had an enjoyable time.

the last week or two i've been working on trying to get everything cleaned off of my old win98 desktop. it's a slow process. i have managed to move most of the mail that was on it onto google app accounts. i had stuff in outlook express, pc-pine, and pegasus mail. unfortunately, a lot of them were in broken installs or just the mailbox files. (i also have some outlook pst files which i haven't figured out how to crack yet, since i don't have outlook installed and i don't know what version they're from.) for the pegasus mail stuff, i had to install a new version of pegasus mail to read that. then i was using imap from all of them to move messsages onto google mail. except pegasus mail wouldn't keep the timestamps right when moving via imap. so i ended up installing thunderbird, creating an mbox folder in pegasus mail, moving the mail into it, moving the created mbx file into thunderbird's profile folder and removing the extension, then moving the mail from thunderbird to google mail via imap. but that worked and all of the mail has its original date on it. it's kind of crazy. i've got over 2000 messages from between 1995 and 2003 so far. what sucks is i lost a bunch of mail a few years ago when a company i was paying to host my domain wiped my inbox. they claimed it was because of something i did, but their unix box was pretty open and i scoured logs and proved it was their own misconfiguration. (not that they cared.) they also claimed to make backups, but they couldn't or wouldn't restore my mail (because i think they didn't want to do restores unless it was a full system restore...if they actually had valid backups). i switched companies. i also lost a lot more mail a couple of years ago when my server at the new company crashed and burned. (which was also when i lost all early blog entries, from before i let anyone know i was blogging.) i would have been okay since i was making local copies on my desktop, but my desktop hard drive crashed and burned within a month or two of the server crashing. and i didn't have backups of that.

my new iphone case finally appears to have arrived in houston yesterday. so hopefully they'll deliver it to me tomorrow.


anthony: woah, woah, woah, woah. excuse me. the...are the explosives really necessary here? i think it'd be a lot more simple if i just walk up to the door alone. i...i think that would be...
dignan: why are you undermining me, man?

(from bottle rocket)

e. t. a.

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i finally got my motorcycle back. (thursday evening.) yea! man, it's nice to have it back. it's so nice being able to switch vehicles around and not be stuck with just one type. now i can take my bel-air somewhere.

friday evening was the monthly geek gathering. it was at tropioca. apparently someone had thrown a few rocks through their windows. that sucks. it was a decent turnout.

saturday i spent a couple of hours searching online for iphone 3g cases. i found a bunch of mediocre stuff, and a few cool things. belkin has a kind of cool silicone sleeve design, but they're way too easy to procure. xskn has some nice colors and designs in their exo line. there are also a few reseller/wholesale sites with some interesting stuff (and/or cheap wares), for example: handhelditems and sourcingmap and cases.com (i almost bought one of the bj rubberskin cases). or if expensive leather with sleek design is more your style, try vaja.

but finally -- on page 13 of the google results -- my search bore fruit. i placed an order and they dropped it in first class mail on sunday. hopefully i'll get it in two or three days. once i've received it and tried it out and can comment on it, i'll put a link up. until then, you'll just have to wonder what kind of incredibly unique and cool looking case i might have found.

after doing my case searching, i went and ate at dairy queen. every now and then my small town genes call out for a trip to a dairy queen. the plan was to eat and then catch the dark knight at the imax, but the shows were all sold out. i'm glad i didn't buy my tickets in advance, because i hate waiting in line, then sitting in the corner of some packed theater. oh well, maybe some other time.

saturday evening i headed over to the potts. i ate supper with them and we watched saturday night live. it'd been some time since i'd been out to their house. (driving out there in the pickup isn't much fun as far as cost goes. plus i just don't really like driving very far unless i'm going on an actual trip somewhere.)

sunday i spent a fair bit of time playing with adium. (i'd downloaded it in the past, but never really played around with it that much.) it's a really nice im client for the mac. holy moly, is it customizable. you can get almost any look and style you want. but the other best part is i now have all of my various im accounts (aol, msn, google talk, jabber, .mac) consolidated into one interface. (yeah, yeah, it's nothing new. i just never got around to using a good all-in-one before.) one thing i like about pidgin on linux is that the log format is just good ol' html. adium uses xml. i'll look more into using adium logs outside their chat transcription viewer in the near future. (as a bonus, it'd be nice if adium's sip/simple protocol could do ms lcs. but i don't think it currently can.)

sunday evening i met up with sara epp at star pizza. she's in town doing interviews and such for teaching jobs. it'd been some time since i'd seen her. she and eric moved away from houston a few years ago.

in other news, i finally managed to break the netflix logjam. i now have new movies to watch again.

monday i was planning to burn some personal time at work as i was about to lose it, but then they decided to let me go anyway so i could do ride-through support for tropical storm/hurricane eduardo. so i decided to take a leisurely lunch at brasil, and met up with the hot russian chick who is no longer from work. when we were close to done, i looked up and who do i see walking into the place? tamara. my ex. i don't think i would have recognized her, except i noticed her tattoos. not that she seemed to have a different look exactly, other than being very skinny. honestly, i'm surprised it took this long to see her somewhere. we never made eye contact and i pretty much avoided trying to, but i was trapped in the rear courtyard. she walked over and sat down at a table, and then the hrc(nlfw) and i got up and walked out.

it was kind of interesting monitoring my emotional response(s) during the moment and afterward. mostly i was just struck with a feeling of being trapped and not wanting to be there. i wanted to avoid having to have some kind of interaction with her. once i had left brasil, my emotions were more mixed. but the strongest one i think was a feeling of being annoyed at her for doing what she did to me. i'm not going to say there were no thoughts or feelings about the positive aspects of our past, but i think mostly i'm cognitively aware that that tamara is long dead. i think that's sad, but such is life.

it also just happened to work out that it was the day before the anniversary of the official day of our divorce. 3 years. which means today is also the 2nd anniversary of me owning my '65 ford f-100. i prefer thinking about my truck.

monday evening i met up with a co-worker at the house of pies for supper, then we met up again at the datacenter. he brought his playstation 3 and rock band gear, so mostly we just played rock band and goofed around. eduardo turned out to be a dud. i fell asleep around 3:45am, then they let us go around 6:30am. i came home and went to sleep, but i spent most of today being tired a lot.

monday and today i'd thought i would take the bel-air to get work done since i was free during the middle of the day, but it didn't happen either day. but it should happen sometime in the near future hopefully.

do not taunt yum update

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*sigh* i hate it when your connection dies in the middle of doing a yum update. especially since the update dies and you have no idea where it was at. then you log back in and try to continue the update, but the connection loss borked some updates so now you get "Transaction Check Error" messages for file conflicts between older packages and newer ones. what to do?

well, you can erase the old conflicting package via:

rpm -e --nodeps --allmatches <package name>

and install the new one with:

yum install <package name>

or if erasing a package sounds like a scary proposition -- especially if it's some major package whose lack of existence might completely bork your box -- you can force the newer package to install by doing:

rpm -Uvh /var/cache/yum/<something>/packages/<rpm package> --force

(yum caches packages it downloads, so if it notices the conflict it should have already downloaded the headers and rpm files. which just might be in /var/cache/yum. or you can go download it by hand and put it where ever your heart pleases.)

once you've done either of these to get rid of whatever conflicts were showing before, you should be able to run yum update and let it go merrily on its way.

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