Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The long hard slog

I started War and Peace today.  Here goes nothing.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Brain Floss

I'm sitting here on the couch taking care of my pregnant stomach-flu infested wifey and she's watching The View. The four vacuous windbags on the show are spewing platitudes about how fragile mens' egos are when they start talking about some other anonymous windbag that postulated that by 2020 men would be having sex with robots. This caused Barbwa Waltwas to bring up the Steppford Wives movie where men were having sex with robots that not just had sex, but, and I paraphrase, "I don't know how they would make such a thing, but really enjoyed sex."

Now this was bad enough because it got me thinking about Barbwa Waltwas having bad sex for her whole life, but she then committed, what I can only assume, is a UN identified war crime. She said, "And then when its done they (the robot Steppford Wives) do that thing that Meg Ryan did in that movie in the diner where she goes..." and then it all went dark.

I could hear the blood rushing in my ears as the world collapsed in upon me. The glorious prepubescent mental image of Meg Ryan in the diner was superimposed upon Vacuous Windbag the fourth heaving and gasping on my HDTV like a salmon that had been batted on shore by a bear.

I can only hope that medical science some day finds a way to selectively remove images from the human mind.

Friday, November 09, 2007

You had so much hair back then. . .

The carefully chosen words that my wife uttered when I first showed her just how cool her husband was in high school.

By the way, I'm the one in the white coat.

Isn't it ironi*cough* *cough* *hack*

Maybe when you listen to enough of the news you start to tune out some of the awfulness in the world. Maybe you filter things so that you don't just walk around sad all day. Maybe finding humor in the world is the only way to do that. Maybe when you say you, you mean I.

I just think its hilarious that this coal miner is smoking a cigarette.

He should be careful. That stuff'll kill ya.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Childhood is different now

Where the #@!%$ where these toys when I was a kid?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Yahoo(Exclamation Point) developed Firefox Plugin

I've been slowly migrating all of my web browser bookmarks to That way I can always get to them and I don't have to sync them between work and home and I JUST FEEL LIKE IT OK!!!

Anyway, there are piles upon steaming festering piles of crappy extensions for Firefox, my web browser of choice.  However, Yahoo(Exclamation Point), which owns has released their own Firefox extension (and one extension to bind them).  Quite simply, it kicks @$$.

It replaces all of the Firefox bookmark related keybindings with the corresponding action for your new bookmark sidebar.  You can search bookmarks, post new ones and they behave just like local Firefox bookmarks (aka "loser" bookmarks) but they are stored on with all the Web 2.1 goodness that that implies .

So go check it out.  Its fun.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Web Application Hosters Beware

My daughter, while unfortunately not far along in the development of her psychic abilities, is well on her way to developing a new super power.
My little Justice League member in training has always had the ability to mangle the minds of computers with a simple touch. If I even glance over at a laptop I am quickly set upon by a swirling tornado of key poking fingers that somehow always manage to close, destroy or crash, not necessarily the application that has focus, like the blank text editor I left open on purpose, but the application that contains the most important information at the time, such as the email I was writing, or the code I was editing.
This is not really amazing or strange as most children I've seen can perform this sort of trick, although this morning she went above and beyond. She managed to, with the simple graze of her finger on my keyboard, to break, not something on my computer, but a computer potentially HUNDREDS OF MILES AWAY!!

I can do little more than profusely apologize to the nice people over at iFixit who I'm sure are very smart people but who were simply completely unprepared for the formidable and still developing powers of my offspring.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Mankind will never discover telekinesis

We've all read that humans only use 6 of the 8 zillion neurons in our brains and that locked up in all of that extra gray matter are some pretty cool sci-fi tricks like reading minds and, my personal favorite, telekinesis. How cool would that be to be able to move objects with your mind? I don't need to get off my lazy butt to get that book, I can just have it float to me.
The discovery of the inner expanses of human brain superpowers usually falls into two categories. They are either discovered through tireless research and training, honing the mind and or body to a razor sharp edge. This is the right method for many pursuits, such as calculus, or all of Batman's cool tricks. However, I don't think this would ever be the way that humans figure out telekinesis. By the time we grow up our minds have learned so much about the world that all of that extra space is locked away behind Sesame Street, Rocky 16, playing football, how to make cookies and how to undo a bra with one hand.
By the way, don't say it. George Lucas lost all all say over when we learn telekinesis when he borked those last three movies, so don't even say it. Midiclorians ?! Oh for the love of Bob. Just don't even say it.
The other way to go is to get to the mind before it has been pent up. This method is the one I've been thinking about recently since my one year old daughter is really starting to interact with her environment I can see her thinking about stuff. Unfortunately, its watching her do this that led to the title of the post. Right now, she her mind is pretty much as open as its going to get. She can move around by herself and see what's around her, but she has never even heard of Rocky and she doesn't even like watching the Giants kick the smack out of the 49ers... yet. However, what she does do, is want. She wants for example, her mother's sandwich. And I don't mean "want" like, "Oh gee it would be nice if I had a sandwich right now" but she "wants" in an indescribably excruciatingly agonizingly spine-tinglingly complete way of hand reaching crawling over her chair clawing at the table OH MY BOB I JUST GOTTA HAVE THAT FREAKIN SANDWICH OHPLEASEOHPLEASEOHPLEASEOHPLEASEOHPLEASE that you just don't see in adults.
So here is where it all falls apart. If there was any hidden telekinesis floating around up there, with the mix of her pliable and completely free mind and that kind of desire that sandwich would have smacked her right in the face as it flew towards her cute little forehead.

Ah well. She's still really cute.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Ubuntu Gutsy + ATI + Suspend workaround

The latest release of Ubuntu (Gutsy) which is in beta testing right now has a problem where laptops with ATI graphics cards will hard hang when you attempt to suspend.  The screen goes blank but the suspend light (usually a moon or something) just flashes forever.

Here is bug with the insanely long bug comment thread:

Here is the workaround:

Create this file:

Put this in it:
   blacklist fglrx


This will allow you to continue to use the fglrx driver but without the kernel module which causes the problem with suspend. .  This means you get 2D acceleration but not 3D.  So no cool Compiz eye candy.  But at least you can put your laptop to sleep.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

How much do you like acronyms?

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has decided to name the new offensive to pacify Baghdad, for which 21,000+ additional American troops have been sent to Iraq or had their tours extended,
Operation Imposing Law.

It is impossible to make this stuff up.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Yeah, well it looks easy after you do it 10,000 times!

For those of you who are reasonably good at something, be it music or dancing or juggling etc. and been infuriated by having hours upon days upon years of practice and experience dismissed by other people with a shrug and a "Wow, I wish I were as talented as you." it turns out you may both be right.

David Shenk is tracking the writing of his new book The Genius In All of Us: Nature, Nurture and the New Science of Talent and Giftedness in his blog. This particular post has a collection of articles and research concerning musical "talent" in people throughout their lives. There are papers about infants showing recognition of melody and song in other people as early as a year but that no amount of musical ability will last past the age of 7 without some sort of training and encouragement.

Lots of interesting research into the discussion between nature and nurture of "talented" people.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The stupidest thing I've ever heard

Arlen Specter (R-PA) was questioning Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez recently and got to asking him about the restriction of habeas corpus by the Bush administration. Habeas is basically the right of prisoners to challenge their incarceration before a court to prevent unlawful imprisonment. It dates back to the Magna Carta and up until recently was a right guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States. This has been the central debate surrounding the Guantanamo Bay detainees and comes up repeatedly whenever Gonzalez testifies before congress.

This one was a beauty though. Specter is asking Gonzalez how the Bush administration can restrict this right when Gonzalez drops the bomb on Specter. Are you ready for this? You might want to sit down. It makes my brain hurt?

There is some mundane stuff at the beginning, the fireworks start around 6:20.

Gonzalez claims that the Constitution doesn't guarantee the right to habeas corpus, it just ... I can't even type this with a straight face... prevents the government from restricting. Do you see the wrinkle there? It doesn't say you have it, it just says you can't take it away. So if they never had it then Bush et al aren't taking it away. And Bob is your uncle while the Constitution staggers back into its cave after another savage beating. Unreal.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Presonus Firepod, Linux, ieee1394, jackd and you

Upon the arrival of my Presonus Firepod I became the 5th coolest member of my band which has only 4 members. However, all of my excitement at giving the Firepod a whirl was quickly doused by its utter failure in communicating with my Linux desktop. Why not use the your Macbook Pro instead, you ask? Because Presonus shipped the Firepod with verion 1.07 of Cubase LE which doesn't install on OS X 10.4 or greater. Awesome. So Presonus is, I $#!+ you not, snail mailing me an updated CD of Cubase LE 1.08 with a patched Mac installer. Mailing a CD. Welcome to 1998.

So that leaves me with hardware that works with the Mac with no way of interacting with it, and software that works on Linux but I can't see the hardware.

Will our hero ever figure out how to get sound to come out of the Firepod? Which will work first, the Mac with the snail mail CD patch, or Linux with the strange firewire driver problem? Will any of this happen before our hero's daughter wakes up from her nap? Stay tuned...

First off, this Pau Arumi's blog post got me most of the way there. Passed the permission problems and such. Thanks Pau. But then I ran into this fun error message.

JACK compiled with System V SHM support.
loading driver ..
Freebob using Firewire port 0, node -1
oot node has no children!
Root node has no children!
FreeBoB ERR: FREEBOB: Error creating virtual device
cannot load driver module freebob
Segmentation fault

Awesome. Stupid root node. The solution to this little gem, after much digging and pestering of nice people on development mailers, was thus.

This is the message that the jack server will output when you attempt to start it with the freebob as the driver and there is no firewire audio hardware connected to your system. But my Firepod was connected to the system, damn it! How stupid do you think I am?... don't say it.

As it turns out my Firepod was connected to the firewire bus on port 1 instead of port 0 and if you don't tell it to do otherwise, the freebob driver will look for hardware on port 0 and die if it doesn't find anything.

So instead of starting jackd like this:

jackd -dfreebob

you have to start it like this:

jackd -dfreebob -dhw:1

Now this is just for my setup. You're Firepod may be connected to port 0 in which case you probably wouldn't have had this problem in the first place. Hope that helps. I'm off to do some recording.

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