Sunday, December 14, 2008

The tubes are unclogged

After the recent ice storm in the north east, many people were without power for a few days, many still don't have it.  While we never lost power, we were without access to the internets for part of three whole days.  This is the part where you are expecting me to say something about how liberating it was not to check email and not keep up with RSS feeds and how I read a book and cooked and saw the sunshine and fulfilled a dream. 
Bull$#!+.  Now I can finally do all that crap and still check my email. 

Monday, December 08, 2008

My Take on Web Storage

More and more I am starting to think that my local computer is really the weak link in storage of my data. For this reason I've put a lot of thought into this web based file hosting thing. Here's what I've come to so far.

I use Dropbox a lot. The wonderful thing about it is that the files are actually on your local machine, so you can access them without an internet connection, which is only really important with a laptop. Some people say this is a weakness because it takes up local space, but that never bothered me and I like not relying on the network to get to the files. Whenever you change anything in any of the local files it is synced up to Dropbox so you can get to it from their very slick web page or through any other computer where you have the Dropbox client installed. No manual intervention, it just notices that the files changed and up it goes. Very cool. It also has file history so you can go back to previous versions of files and recover deleted ones.

You can get a free forever account with 2GB of storage but you can pay for more.

I've heard about but haven't use it. It doesn't have the local files that Dropbox has. Here's someone else's good comparison between the two.

Another one that I really really like is This one is my favorite because they don't actually keep your files. You go out and get an amazon s3 (simple storage service) where your data is hosted and encrypted by amazon's very cool cloud disk in the sky. Jungledisk just organizes it like a filesystem for you and provides automated backup software etc. You just buy jungledisk software once (you can try it for free) and that's it. Upgrades for life. And you pay amazon for the storage, which is pretty cheap ($0.15/GB/month).

This solution really is nice because you are trusting the 800 lbs amazon gorilla with your data, and not some random fly by night company. The jungledisk file access parts are open source so you will never not be able to get your data.

So I like Dropbox's implementation but jungledisk gives me the warm fuzzies. The amazon s3 prices are still a little steap for a full out backup solution as my 2 year old is one of the more well documented individuals ever and the pictures are piling up. Of course, I have to back it up locally with multiple disks, so maybe I'm just kidding myself with how much it really costs.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Saturday, November 01, 2008

I got a leaf for you

I'm not sure at what point in childhood it no longer occurs to you when sitting in the middle of a 3 foot high 10 foot wide pile of leaves to carefully pick up a single leaf, turn to your father and say, "Daddy, I got you a leaf." but I hope my daughter doesn't get there soon.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Can Ted "The Tube Man" Stevens Even Get His Own Vote?

The jury came back in the Ted Stevens federal corruption trial with Stevens being found guilty on all seven counts of "making false statements on Senate financial documents". This makes Ted Stevens, the longest serving Republican senator in the history of the United States, a convicted felon.

Now I usually get some weird voyeuristic pleasure watching any politician get caught doing something dumb. The greater the irony (I'm looking at you Rep. Mahoney) the more fun it is. However, Stevens holds a special place in the hearts of most geeks having single handedly renamed the Internet to "The Tubes".

For totally irony points though, I think the absolute pinnacle would be that with his conviction coming just eight days before his hotly contested senatorial seat is up for grabs Stevens may not even be able to cast a ballot for himself.

According to Human Rights Watch:


In the United States, conviction of a felony carries collateral “civil” consequences apart from penal sanctions such as fines or imprisonment. Offenders may lose the right to vote, to serve on a jury, or to hold public office, among other “civil disabilities” that may continue long after a criminal sentence has been served. While both state and federal law impose civil disabilities following criminal conviction, state law governs removal of the right to vote even if the conviction is for a federal rather than state offense.

I'm not sure what the laws are in Alaska pertaining to felony disenfranchisement, but if there is any karma in the universe, Stevens may very well lose by the single vote that he couldn't cast himself.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Best Quote of The Week

George Will is a conservative columnist for the Washington Post. He's not one of those loopy fire breathing nut jobs that FOX News hires, but he is a thoughtful, intelligent conservative who challenges the ideas people with whom he disagrees instead of throwing poo at them. He is the kind of conservative that the world needs so that the entire discussion doesn't fall into the hands of the the fire breathing nut jobs on both sides.

He has pretty much conceded the election these days, most poignantly in a quote of a Conservative (capital 'C') British politician:

In 1987, on the eve of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's third victory, the head of her Conservative Party told a visiting columnist: "Someday, Labour will win an election. Our job is to hold on until they are sane." Republicans, winners of seven of the past 10 presidential elections, had better hope they have held on long enough.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Not paying attention to the rest of the world, will eventually effect our lives in ways we can't possibly imagine.

Some of the pictures in the movie are pretty grisly.

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Debate Translated: VP Edition followed up their coverage of the presidential debate with their vidcast of the lies told at the VP debate which was posted in less than 24 hours. Don't these people sleep?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Debate Translated is a fabulous non-partisan website that just checks facts. They wait for politicians to say stuff and then they tell you when they are lying. They did a special vidcast for the debate that clears up some of the arguments that the candidates had.

They do one vidcast every friday covering the week's spin and the website is updated constantly. Its well worth checking out.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

My Daughter Discovered the Higgs Boson

Schmoopie Pumpkin: Daddy, what's on my toe?
Me: I don't know, sweety, is it a sticker?
Schmoopie Pumpkin: Nooooooooo
Me: Its not? It looks a lot like a sticker.
Schmoopie Pumpkin: Nooooooooo
Me: Hrm, is it an ostrich?
Schmoopie Pumpkin: Tee hee Nooooooooo
Me: Well, I guess that's good. Is it a German Panzer tank?
Schmoopie Pumpkin: Noooooooooooo
Me: Is it Estes Kefauver?
Schmoopie Pumpkin: Noooooooooooo
Me: Is it a sticker?
Schmoopie Pumpkin: Nooooooooooo
Me: Wait ... a... minute.... Is that a Higgs Boson!?!?
Schmoopie Pumpkin: YEEEEESSSSS!
Me: Wow, I was expecting more fanfare when we finally found it. As it is, I think you pooped.
Schmoopie Pumpkin: Nooooooooooooooooo

Monday, September 29, 2008

House Republicans and Identifying Risk

So the bail-out bill failed to pass the house, mostly because of the objections of house Republicans who just can't stomach getting government that involved in business. This concept does have its merits in theory. The invisible hand of the market and not being a commie and all, but a lot of very smart people seem to think that unless there is some sort of help provided by somebody, that we are headed for depression, not recession.

Everyone in congress appears to agree that something needs to be done, but the house Republicans seem to like this idea of a government backed insurance program for holders of mortgages and mortgage backed securities (MBS).

I absolutely hate it when people just shoot down the ideas of other people without having a good suggestion themselves, but what I'm about to do is shoot down the ideas of other people without having a good suggestion myself.

I was reading the Economist from last week and came across this sentence in an already horribly out of date article:
It is a measure of the scale of the crisis that, by the evening of September 17th, all eyes were on Morgan Stanley, and no longer on AIG, which only 24 hours before had thrust Lehman out of the limelight. After its share price slumped by 24% that day, and fearing a total evaporation of confidence, Morgan attempted to sell itself. Its boss, John Mack, reportedly held talks with several possible partners, including Wachovia, a commercial bank, and Citic of China.

Did you see it? There at the end, they snuck it in. Wachovia was being courted to buy the teetering Morgan Stanley. Sound familiar? It should because Wachovia just got scooped up by Citigroup. And not just out of the goodness of their hearts either. The Fed stepped in and is guaranteeing all losses from the Wachovia takeover for Citigroup above $42 billion. Now $42 with nine zeroes after it is a lot, but the other side of that is infinitely large and that's the part for which the US Government, already $11 with 12 zeroes in the whole before this mess even started, is on the hook.

My point here is this. A week ago Morgan Stanley was trying to get bought by a large commercial bank that seven days later was so worthless and pestilence ridden that it had to be married off to Citigroup with an infinitely large dowry from Uncle Sam.

What does this have to do with house Republicans and their insurance plan? This is the environment in which they want to establish a healthy and balanced insurance market overnight which involves the need to somehow price the premiums that must be paid in order to correctly balance the risk associated with the insured asset.

The whole point of this entire catastrophe is that the financial sector couldn't properly identify risk if it came up behind them with a rubber glove and a wry smile, which I think is exactly what's been going on recently.

Without the ability to determine how risky something is, its impossible to have a successful insurance market around it. People make a ton of money calculating risk for insurance. Remember the physical you had to go through before you got life insurance? You think they like carrying your urine around in a cup? NO! They are going through a lot of effort to calculate your risk of shuffling off this mortal coil.

There is no mechanism right not to determine how much of the risk of the currently held MBS has been worked out and how much is still to come. That is why they are completely worthless and why everyone that holds them has to value them as such so their balance sheets have been soaring recently the same way that bricks do.

The insurance plan that the house Republicans want may very well be a good idea for a long term safety net, but it won't do anything in the near term for allowing banks to lend money again.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Don't blow this, Lutz

With the buzz about the newly released information about Chevy's upcoming Volt fresh in my mind I was excited to see Bob Lutz, the General Motors Vice Chairman of Global Product Development, getting interviewed on the Colbert Report about the Volt.

I was excited, that is, until he actually spoke.

He stumbles across his disbelief in CO2 causing global warming. I'm all for academic debate but you're trying sell a damn car. Swallow the fact that you are out of the mainstream and come with a prepared joke or something.

Tiny little four cylinder engine? Seriously? Come on.

He answered Colbert's jocular question about "getting off the line" with a sentence that included the word "adequately". Seriously?
You are selling a car in the United States of I Prove My Penis Size By The Size of My Carmerica.

Its has a 150hp engine, which is more than my admittedly tame Pontiac Vibe, but he says it like he's trying to explain to his mother what all this porn is doing under his bed.

"If you're buying an electric car, you're attitude shouldn't be that you're trying to lay down rubber"... are you KIDDING ME!?

Which part of sales school do they teach you not to apologize for the product you are selling? Is that 5 or 6 minutes after you walk into the room? This guy is the worst salesman since Hannibal tried to sell elephants to the Romans. Like seriously bad bad bad.

I am going to be excruciatingly pissed if GM manages to take this amazingly forward looking and courageous idea and piss it away by having the morons that have been shoving 11 MPG Abrams battle tanks down our throats for two decades wander out in front of their customers and say "Well I guess it doesn't make you look like tooooo much of a pussy if its kinda dark and you've been drinking a lot and you're standing next to Ryan Seacrest for comparison."

Don't blow this, Lutz.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Slightly Impatient to Never Buy Gas Again

I absolutely can not, just gotta have it, oh baby, gimmegimmegimmegimme oh please oh please when can I get one how soon can you get it to me would it help if I pushed it might is it 2010 yet how fast can I sell my old car can not wait for the new Chevy Volt.

A friend sent me this article which is the most detailed one I've seen so far about what's in the Volt and how it will work. Gimmegimmegimmegimmegimmegimme!!!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Inside with the kids

We are about to host our daughter's second birthday party this Saturday. My brother's 37 kids are coming, a few other friends with kids are bringing theirs, some of the kids from Emily's playgroup are coming for a grand total of 6.022x10^23 children under the age of five.

No problem, right? Lots of parents, we'll send all the kids out onto the swingset that we put up for exactly this reason. We'll hang out on the deck, BBQ a little, and watch the kids lose their little minds.

Or not.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Llama gestation no where in sight

A little while back I was complaining about how even though I keep hearing that Linux is ready for the desktop and "No really, this is the year for Linux on the desktop", that desktop Linux is . . . ahem . . . not quite there yet. I think my exact words were "Linux is as ready for mainstream desktops as I am to give birth to a llama".

Well, I just got a new Thinkpad T61p and I'm happy to announce that I am no closer to being called on my analogy. It was a close call but the perennial favorite of "suspend to RAM" was what did it again.

I installed Ubuntu, which, as always, went off without a hitch. I ripped off the "V" key to dig out the popcorn pieces that the previous owner of the laptop had deposited there. Everything was swell... until...

I was so giddy about the new laptop and the fact that it had an nvidia graphics card as opposed to the latest ATI I'd-rather-sautee-my-own-liver-than-wrestle-with-this-video-card 9600 that usually comes with Thinkpads, that I decided to take the plunge and just suspend it. That's it. To anyone that owns a normal laptop this may not seem like a big deal. Laptops have been suspending without incident since before Florida took a steaming crap on our Democracy.

But if you don't know anything else about users of Linux on laptops it is this. These are people that get irrationally excited about being able to do something on their computers that everyone else has been able to do for at least 5 years.
So back to suspend. Of course it doesn't work. Oh wait, technically suspend does work. Its resume that doesn't work at all. The thing goes to sleep like its sitting through a Cell Bio 210 lecture in the dark immediately after lunch. Its the turning back on part that doesn't work so well. It just sits there, waits for 20 second, beeps and emits heat into the surrounding environment. Stellar.

At this point I pull my self off the ground in a very Charlie Brown post-failed football kick way and hit the forums.

If you are reading this post looking for the way to get a Lenovo T61p Thinkpad to suspend/resume properly using Ubuntu Hardy 8.04 you should not follow this link here. There are probably nearly a trillion links on the internet that you should also not go to but I dare say that all the rest of them are not nearly as long as this one and are not nearly as close to exactly what I needed to know without actually having any useful information on it whatsoever. It actually goes beyond not having useful information. It has information that looks so tantilyzingly useful that I would swear I was in one of the more creative ancient Greek afterlife psychological torture stories. But alas, bupkis.

If you are still reading this post looking for the way to get a Lenovo T61p Thinkpad to suspend/resume properly using Ubuntu Hardy 8.04 you should also not follow this link either. This one is, amazingly enough, even close than the last one. *SPOILER ALERT*. While the answer is not actually on this page, nor is a link to a page with the correct answer, a link to the page with the most helpful wrong answer is on this page somewhere.

If you are still reading this post looking for the way to get a Lenovo T61p Thinkpad to suspend/resume properly using Ubuntu Hardy 8.04 go buy a Mac. Seriously, its just easier for everyone involved.

If you are still reading this post looking for the way to get a Lenovo T61p Thinkpad to suspend/resume properly using Ubuntu Hardy 8.04 and you looked at that other page with the link to the best wrong answer, you ended up at this incredibly well written and detailed post about why suspend/resume doesn't work with Ubuntu Linux on the Lenovo T61p Thinkpad. If you read it carefully, fully grasp what it is saying and follow the instructions exactly . . . it will still not work. If at this point, you decide to look, oh I don't know, at the bottom of your laptop and see that one of the numbers there happens to kind of look like the same sort of pattern that is in the fix that this guy posted for the laptop you have but a slightly different model number, well not really model number but like a sub-product detail subdivision separator code and replaced your sub-product detail subdivision separator code with the one in the fix that the nice guy posted at that site with the closest wrong answer and you reboot and suspend and...

It totally fucking worked.

Here's the best part. The fix is in some random XML file that has workarounds for different models of computers to make them behave properly during suspend. The part that broke this the whole time has this comment over it:

T61p (6460), does not work with the NVidia driver

However, in reality, the T61p works fine with the NVidia driver. If you remove the workaround altogether, it just works.

If someone is actually looking for the answer, just replace the four digit number in the semicolon delimited prefix_outof attribute in the patch to be the four digits after the "TYPE" label on the bottom of your laptop. Sheesh.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Do you know how I know that Facebook is evil?

Because they insist on being this enclosed fortress of your online life.  They are the new AOL.  I would not be surprised to hear someone say "Well, I'm not sure if I should switch away from Facebook, will I still be able to send messages to all my friends?"  YES, ITS CALLED FREAKIN EMAIL. 

Oh, but wait.  That's where Facebook gets you.  Go to one of your friend's profile pages on Facebook.  Look for their email address.  If they have one there and you can see it you are unable to cut and paste it.  Any guesses why?  Because it is actually a picture of the email address. Not the text itself.  So you can't cut and paste it into the standard medium of communication on the tubes since someone made fun of Al Gore for not saying that he invented them, email.

Well at least you can still play Scrabble.

Friday, August 08, 2008

You know why Google is cool?

Love them or hate them, its stuff like this that makes Google cool.  I found this as part of a article on tips for using the different Google apps.

This one is about a trick for Google Spreadsheet.  Go to Google Docs and create a new spreadsheet from the "New" button at the top left. Then, from the article:

... enter "Superman" in the top left cell, and enter "Batman" and "Wonder Woman" in the cells below. Now select all three cells you created. Hold down the Ctrl key, and drag the bottom right corner of the selection downwards over the other cells. Notice something?

I won't ruin the surprise by telling you what will happen.  Its just cool.
As my daughter learns to speak, she will pick up a new phrase and use it a lot for a while until she gets the hang of it. What amazes me is how quickly she picks up when to use one of them.

The latest is "Just a tiny bit", which, to be honest, sounds more like "Jst a tine beet", but you get the idea.

Mommy: Gahhh! Emily, you spilled all of your milk on the floor!
Emily: Jst a tine beet.

Emily: Pick up, Mommy! (pick me up, Mommy)
Mommy: Not right now sweety, I have to shower because Mommy is stinky.
Emily: Jst a tine beet.

Daddy: Pumpkin, I think your diaper is officially a SuperFund site.
Emily: Jst a tine beet.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

So you thought that DRM'd music wasn't so bad, huh?

Microsoft recently announced that they are going to be turning off their MSN Music license servers by the end of this summer.  This means that the DRM protected music that people bought from MSN will only be able to be played on the machines that are licensed for it (up to 5) on August 31st 2008 and you can never change it ever again.  Not for hardware upgrades, or OS reinstalls or anything. 

We can all be fuzzy and warm watching copy protected music fall down all over the place with lots of unencumbered alternatives but with the situation around movies these days, if you don't see some parallels here and a similar fate in the future you should have the marshmellows removed from your corneas. 

Friday, June 20, 2008


This bottle of Purell in front of me has a claim on the front stating that the solution with

Kills 99.99% of Most Common Germs That May Make You Sick

Now on first glance, that sounds pretty good.  But that seems like an awful lot of qualification for the giant bold font on the front of every bottle of this stuff sold. Usually that is the place reserved for "New" or "Improved" or "New and Improved" or "This will increase the size of your...".  You get the idea.  But this carefully crafted claim seems to be reaching.

Taken one piece at a time:

Kills 99.99%Now that may seem like a lot, but when you consider that there are millions of bacteria on your hands most of the time leaving 1 in 10,000 there means there still kind of a lot. And what is it that is left behind?

of Most (but not all) Common (but not the really nasty ones) Germs - So you mean all the standard stuff that people have been dealing with for millennia is have covered.  Anything slightly weird and you're on your own.  And even those, this only gets Most of them and even the Most that are do covered, it will only get 99.99% of those.  So this stuff will basically clean up the Darwin Award Winning bacteria.  Very comforting. 

That May Make You Sick - All those ones that WILL make you sick, no promises.

Remind me not to hire the Purell marketing guys to sell anything.

That said, don't worry too much about what's on your hands.  When you lick your hands you're usually cleaning off your tongue.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

My brother the disciplinarian

Conner, don't go near the door.
Conner, don't touch the door.
Conner, don't open the door.
Conner, stop opening the door.
Conner, close the door.
Conner, don't go outside.
Conner, stop going outside.
Conner, get back inside.
Conner, don't close the door.
Conner, stop closing the door.
Conner, open the door and get back inside.
Conner, don't ignore your father.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Mirrors on the Titanic

NPR recently ran a story (definitely worth a listen) about the practice of Energy Recycling. There have been a lot of stories in the news lately about energy.  High oil prices, carbon output, sustainability, etc. but this one was particularly interesting.  Recycling is good.  Everyone loves recycling.  It reduces the guilt you feel about using plastic bottles and tin cans and paper products.  And its even not that bad for the planet. 
Well energy recycling is even better.  The general idea is to take the heat generated at, for example, a steel foundry and use it to turn steam turbines to produce electricity.  This is heat that would otherwise have just dissipated out of a smokestack or something.  The electricity can be used to run the foundry itself or fed back into the grid.  This idea rocks.  And given that 27 percent of US greenhouse gas emissions was from the production of heat as a byproduct of doing something useful, its nice to be able to use that heat again. This could even be done to recapture the heat from coal fired power plants to make even more electricity from the heat of burning the coal in the first place! HOW COOL IS THAT!
So that's the general idea.  The story goes into more detail about the amount of energy and how it works but the main idea was that if we did this all over the place we could eliminate the need for something like 400 coal fired power plants. 
I'm in the car listening to this with my heart singing with joy for the brilliant innovation of the human race and how we're all going to get through this thing because people can do anything and we are clever beyond the dreams of Avarice.

Then I almost hit a bridge embankment. From the NPR story(emphasis mine):

So why isn't it done more often here(in the US)?

"The real challenge is that it's typically illegal," says Casten, "and you've got to find a way around the laws."

Casten says state and federal laws protect monopoly utilities, often preventing energy recyclers from selling excess power back to the grid or from running power lines across a street. Even the Clean Air Act prevents utilities themselves from recycling waste heat at older coal-fired power plants, because any modification subjects them to newer regulations.

Are you #$%!ing kidding me!?

So let me see if I got this right.  We are dicking around with solar panels, and pinwheels and hybrid cars that inexplicably get worse gas mileage than my conventional '92 Honda Civic, and taking corn that used to feed people and turning it into fuel, and talking about conservation this and recycle that and turn the lights off when you aren't using them and change this bulb to that bulb and take short showers and drive with your windows shut for air resistance and hooking up treadmills at gyms to generate power while you exercise and don't forget to suspend your computer before you leave so it won't use electricity over night and don't use your brakes because it will waste gas....

and we don't want to recapture and use the heat that creates more than a quarter of the country's greenhouse gases to protect utility monopolies!!

I am insufficiently eloquent to put into words how crazy this made me.  The closest I heard was my brother's response when I told him about this. I paraphrase because I have a memory like a wet sponge:

"That is like being on the Titanic while its sinking and going topside to install a giant array of mirrors to redirect and focus the sun's rays to heat up the water filling the ship so that it evaporates faster instead of plugging the giant freaking hole in the bottom of the boat."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Time to lock it down

You know what password you use on most random websites on the tubes? That one that you thought of when the internet was new and you just wanted to log into the damn site and see what all the buzz was about.  And then you went to another site and you didn't want to have to remember TWO passwords, so you just stuck with you "web" password.  The one that is usually about 6 characters long and only that long because some site required it to be that long.  If it was up to you it would be 1 character long and it wold be the letter "J" because you are right handed and your index finger is wicked fast.  So on and on you carried this one lame password that is probably your first pets name or something stupid like that.

Well now that google has my name, address, reading interest, search history, calendar, email from the past 3 years and now health information, it was time to jack up the password strength. 

Its got letters, numbers, an ascii backspace character and a base64 encoded picture of Mel Gibson before he went crazy in it.  Its 8 pages long and takes me 2.5 hours to type.  But now there is absolutely no chance that anyone will be able to stumble across it and find out that I take Allegra once a month or so for a mild allergy to dust mites.  Suck on that.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Russell's Postulate #45: Naming things

I was doing some serious geeking out after putting Emily to bed and was reading about Currying in Scala. Don't go to either of those links, they are not the point and you probably wont' care. The point is that Currying is some idea that someone thought of once. From the Scala documentation I was reading

This style of ... blah blah blah ... is called currying after its promoter, Haskell B. Curry, a logician of the 20th century, even though the idea goes back further to Moses Schönfinkel and Gottlob Frege.

What this basically says is that Herr Schönfinkel and Herr Frege had this really kick ass idea but crappy names. This brought me to conclude Russell's Postulate #45

A good idea or invention will need to be thought of repeatedly until stumbled across and popularized by someone with a catchy name.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Main Entry:
\ˈī-rə-nē also ˈī(-ə)r-nē\
Inflected Form(s):
plural iro·nies
Latin ironia, from Greek eirōnia, from eirōn dissembler
1: The fact that on normal apples, the little sticker comes right off with no residue, but on double-the-price organic apples you need rubbing alcohol to get off the sticker glue that stays on the apple after the sticker falls apart in your hands.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Linux is as ready for mainstream desktops as I am to give birth to a llama

I reinstalled my home desktop with the latest version of Ubuntu Linux.  It is one of a few leading mainstream desktop Linux distributions.  Its supposed to be rock solid and able to be used by anyone.  I used the live CD to flatten my disk and install from scratch.

The whole install goes really well and ends with a nice little dialog that says "You're installation is complete.  Restart your computer to start using Ubuntu."


*black screen*

GRUB Loading stage1.5

GRUB loading, please wait. . .
Error 17

It then has the gall to leave a flashing cursor under the error taunting me to attempt to interact with the computer which is now a space heater.

I'm pretty good at figuring all this crap out and I'll eventually piece together what went wrong, but to be totally honest, this is bull$#!+.  Maybe next upgrade...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Nothing new here, just some funny $#!+

While sitting here basking in the fun and wonderfulness that was Bee Movie I went poking around the tubes for something fun.

For the love of Bob these guys are funny.

Unfortunately, this is the only clip I could find of my very favorite one which was "Even Stevphen: Islam vs. Christianity" but its in some weird random site that Viacom didn't get to yet. Still worth watching. Its not on the new and much improved Daily Show site for some reason and all the other google hits of it show it as removed due to content violations. Ah well.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


There is a concept that my, admittedly rather geeky, friends and I have that generally is the gating factor for any seriously geeky new technology we introduce into our homes. That concept is WAF or Wife Acceptance Factor. The WAF is calculated based on a number of variables including, but not limited to:
  • How bleeding edge is this new piece of technology you are planning to introduce:
    • High WAF - "Hey sweety, I'm going to upgrade the laptop in the living room to the newest version of Firefox. It came out 3 months ago, is on version X.2, all of your favorite extensions will work with it and its getting great reviews."
    • Low WAF - "Hey sweety, I'm going to upgrade the OS on the laptop in the living room to this new FreeBSD version that is about to be released in a few months as soon as they iron out that USB problem, and that screen resolution thingy. The network stack is a little buggy but is WAAY faster than it used to be and if I add this patch I downloaded off this newsgroup it won't even hang when you close the top."
  • How expensive is it:
    • High WAF - "Hey sweety, this guy at work is upgrading his monitor and wants to know if we want his old 19" LCD for free. Its a year old but it works. and is better than the 13" green and black radiation toaster we have now. You won't have to wear sunblock when you use it or anything."
    • Low WAF - "Hey sweety, I'm going to replace our 3 month old 21" LCD with the new 30" Apple Cinema display that just came out. We get a discount through work so it'll only cost as much as my junior year of college."
  • What is your recent track record with previous "upgrades"
    • High WAF - "Hey sweety, remember how much you like the new Mac? Well, the new version of OS X is even better and has all kinds of new features that just work all the time and its faster and taller and bigger."
    • Low WAF - "Hey sweety, I know that last kernel upgrade was rough but this time will be way smoother. I've read that they ironed out all of the file system problems from before and the new scheduler is supposed to make the desktop noticeably less sluggish. Seriously, buggy file systems are a drag but we can always take more pictures of the baby when she's older and she won't even notice that we don't have them from the first 16 months. It wasn't like she was doing anything interest*SMACK*
  • Overall complexity of every day use:
    • High WAF - "Hey sweety, Your new cell phone does nothing more or less than the phone the Alexander Graham Bell invented. There are 10 number buttons and a send key. Just throw it against the wall if you want to end the call."
    • Low WAF - "Hey sweety, check out this new universal remote. It replaces both of our other remotes and check this out. If you flip up the top and hold your finger on this part of the touch screen and then reach around to the back and push these three buttons and insert a paper clip into that third hole from the left it turns on the TV _and_ the DVD player at the same time!!! NO, NOT THE THIRD HOLE FROM THE RIGHT!!! THAT'S THE EJECTION SEAT BUTTON!!
  • Wife's current mood:
    • High WAF: "Hey sweety, do you mind if I ... oh, what? Your favorite vacuous slut is winning in the latest season of The Bachelor:Who wants to marry a Ukranian Thousandaire? Oh that's wonderful news. I'll just go do whatever I want.
    • Low WAF: "Hey sweety, do you mind if I try this new*SMACK*... never mind.
There are, in fact, a near infinite number of additional variables but they change constantly so are impossible to actually document but sufficient WAF is absolutely critical before embarking on any project.

Some modern wifelogians have attempted to prove that

WAF = 1/WaF

where WAF is Wife Acceptance Factor and WaF is Wife aversion Factor, but since it has since been proven that the WaF is actually more difficult to accurately calculate than WAF the definition is little more than a mental exercise.

In one special, but exceptionally rare, case, WAF actually reaches infinity. There are only rumored stories about this particular case ever happening in real life. Legends abound on the internet but most are debunked shortly after as mere misunderstandings, confusion of dreams with reality or drunken hallucinations brought on by exceptionally high HDL.

This case is when the new technology introduction was her idea to begin with...

To Be Continued...

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Pretty Cheezy

Wifey: We're having people over for breakfast on Easter.  I'm going to make a cheese estrada.
Me: Is that like Erik Estrada?
Wifey: Sort of.  More cheese.
Me: Wow, that's a lot of cheese.
Wifey: Yeah.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Drowning in RSS and learning to swim

I love RSS.  Its a great way to have the entirety of the internet come to me whenever I want it.  However, I've noticed that the number of sites on the internet that I think I would like to read faaaaaar exceeds my ability to actually read them.  I have tens of thousands of unread crap waiting for me in google reader and more are on the way every day. 

In an attempt to trim the fat a bit, I decided to start using Yahoo Pipes to get more of what I want. 

My first attempt is for a really nice site called  Its a blog about interesting ways to tweak your life with maybe gadgets or different ways to do common tasks.  Interesting stuff, but lots and lots and lots of it. 

So here's my LifeHacker's Highlights yahoo pipe that just outputs the weekly Most Popular Posts entry.  So instead of hundreds I get one post a week with the ones that everyone else found the most interesting. 

Hope you enjoy my pipe.   errrrr... right.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Lefty Layup

I was at the gym (stop laughing, I'm trying to tell a story) with a friend of mine and we were alternately talking about politics and bitching about the lack of good outdoor basketball weather these days. This of course let do a discussion about Barack Obama playing basketball in order to unwind during the campaign. We were wondering what kind of player he might be.

Apparently he used to play in HS.

Lefty layup, baby! (yeah, he's left handed but that's not the point.)

So he used to play, sure, but does he still have the skills?

The man has ice water in his veins.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Rounded Corners

For those of you who don't know what TED Talks are, you should go watch most of them.

Here's one for the many new and not so new parents that I know. Its about some of the lessons that kids need to learn that our culture may not think is the safest activity in which they could partake. Aside from replacing "Spear throwing" with "Throwing a ball" because I don't have a spear lying around, I kinda like the list. I can't wait to teach Emily to drive...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Doesn't that look like my old 45?

When I was a kid and CDs first came out, I heard people that were faaaar older than I make an interesting observation. They said,

"We had all these 45 records with all our music on it. Then came the big 33 1/3 record which, besides having a fraction in the RPM, which is borderline unAmerican, were more or less the same as the smaller 45s. but we bought them anyway, replacing our whole music collection. Then came tapes (or 8 tracks, the order isn't the point and if someone corrects me then we'll all know that they're just old). These new music distribution devices had new and interesting features, and the thieving bastards at the recording companies weren't selling the old records anymore so we all dutifully went out and bought the new thing.

Then followed 8 tracks (or tapes, which ever was not in the last paragraph), same story. Then, the ultimate in music delivery media. The magic of digital, the perfection of the recording... music nirvana..."

There are, of course, the crazy audiophiles who will tell you that digital music will never attain the subtle nuance and warm sounds that only analog recordings can offer. But I just can't see spending $25,000 (sic) on the oh-my-bob-that-is-the-greatest-record-player-in-the-universe perfectly weighted turntable just for the privilege of listening to a shard of metal scrape across a plastic groove which sounds more like the inside of a seashell than anything else.

But I digress

The whole point is that the CDs look exaaaactly light the old 45s that were replaced all those years ago. They weren't of course, but the visual similarity was close enough to be amusing.

So you'd think that the whole point of this ramble would be music, right? Or maybe a rant against the RIAA? Not even close.

A German company called SkySail has "invented" this amazing new "green" technology will revolutionize the entire shipping industry. They have invented an ocean going vessel, and I know this is going to sound weird, powered by wind being caught in a huge cloth sheet which pulls the boat!! Eureka! Why didn't anyone think of this bef.... oh wait.

Magellan, eat your heart out. These sails are supposed to decrease fuel usage for big cargo ships from 10-50% depending on wind conditions.

And I swear they look exactly like all those old 45s that I just threw out!!

Nah, I'm just kidding, 45s are for old people.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I guess not everyone is a Giants fan

America's team my left butt cheek.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Plan B 3.0

I regularly listen to the podcast of Science Friday a weekly show on NPR about science related topics.  There was one recently called Brown's 'Plan B 3.0' an Environmental Call to Action which is an interview with Lester Brown, an environmental analyst from the Earth Policy InstitutePlan B 3.0 is Brown's latest book about his "plan to save the planet from climate change. But with calls for a carbon tax and more gasoline taxes, it's not going to be easy or cheap".  The quote was from the shownotes.

The interview itself is an excellent listen with topics ranging from carbon taxation, wind power and, my brother's favorite, bottled water.

Even better, the entire contents of the book are available on the Earth Policy Institute website for free.

Great Wifey Quote of the Day

"Prefaces in books are stupid.  Why are there ever prefaces? They should just call it 'Chapter 1'".

- Wifey

Friday, January 11, 2008

A truly momentous day

Today, my daughter sat on my lap, dunked half of an oatmeal cookie into a class of milk, almost up to the elbow, and ate the cookie.  It is truly a great day.