Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Rules for living


  • Tell the truth.
  • Do what you say you're going to do.
  • Say what you mean to say.
  • Act like you want others to act.
  • Behave like your spouse, mom or boss is watching.
  • Do not expect subordinates to behave differently from their perception of you.
  • Admit when you've made a mistake, even to subordinates.
  • Acknowledge good results as well as bad.
  • "Thank you" goes a long way.
  • Promise nothing more than everything you're willing and able to give or do.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Obama will not defend the US Constitution. He will Destroy it.

Amendment 1 - Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Ratified 12/15/1791. Note

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Obama and the Democrats will enact the Fairness Doctrine which will severely curtail opposition media on the radio.

Amendment 2 - Right to Bear Arms. Ratified 12/15/1791. Note

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Obama wants to keep individuals (the people) away from owning guns. He does seem to want to have a civilian militia but I guess if you're not a part of it, you don't get to keep your gun.


Amendment 4 - Search and Seizure. Ratified 12/15/1791.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The PATRIOT Act is not likely to be repealed.

Amendment 5 - Trial and Punishment, Compensation for Takings. Ratified 12/15/1791.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Obama wants to take more taxes. And abortion is deprivation of life. Care to compensate for an aborted baby?

Amendment 9 - Construction of Constitution. Ratified 12/15/1791.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Obama believes that those rights not enumerated by the Constitution can be assumed by the federal government.

Amendment 10 - Powers of the States and People. Ratified 12/15/1791. Note

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Obama believes that abortion "Freedom of Choice Act" is something that must be decreed on a federal level. Unfortunately, it isn't up to the federal government.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

PuTTY, SSH, Web Browser tunnel

This bypasses your proxy server, tunnels through your own SSH server, and provides web access.
  1. Have a running ssh server, accessible from the Internet. http://www.dyndns.com can help give you a name to your IP address, if you have a dynamic one. Making the dyndns connection is beyond the scope of this tutorial.
  2. Create a PuTTY session to your ssh server. Chances are, if you know what step 1 is about, you've already created a PuTTY session to it.
  3. Inside PuTTY's session, go to Connection, SSH, Tunnels
  4. Type a number (8080?) into Source Port. Click Dynamic, Auto, and then [Add]
  5. Save the PuTTY sesssion
  6. Connect to your PuTTY session
  7. Configure your browser's proxy settings: Manual, SOCKS v5, 127.0.0.1, port (whatever number you used as your Source Port in 4.)
  8. If you go to http://www.gwy.org/yourip.php, you should now see that your IP address is your ssh server.
There are interesting side effects that happen when you do this, especially since you usually can ssh connect any time you have any internet access.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

ImageMagick is cool

Command line for images? What?

OK, so I have this .png file that makes a bevel on a picture:
except I don't *really* want to take the time and effort to load GIMP/Photoshop every time I want to apply this bevel/bezel. Now, I take ImageMagick's convert and composite and make my button from the command line:

convert -resize 244x132! originalpic.jpg resizedpicname.jpg
composite bevel.png resizedpicname.jpg buttonizedfilename.jpg



Original: Trent Original Photo
Resized: Trent resized Photo
Bevel/Bezel: Trent buttonized

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Devil you know

Better the devil you know... that means that people would rather vote for someone decisive in what they believe (even if they think he's lying) than to vote for ambiguous policies.

You know Obama is feeding you a load of junk. He's cute and he explains the junk he's selling. It's still junk. But then you have McCain saying stuff. You don't know what he's selling. You don't know what you can do with what he's selling. You're not even certain HE knows what he's selling. All he wants to do is call you "my friends." You're wary about what he wants to do. "The devil you know" may lead you to the path of destruction. "The devil you don't know" perhaps can't or won't lead you anywhere.

In essence, you're the Gingerbread Man, Obama's the fox who'll carry you across the water. He'll probably eat you, but you're dry and in motion away from the other doom. McCain is the river. You could jump in the river. You could be safe, but then you could be a soggy mess.

Monday, October 6, 2008

New Monty Hall Puzzle(s)

Based upon some comments in the other Monty Hall puzzle, I propose the following scenarios:

Three doors which the host knows the location of a car and two goats. Two contestants get to choose SEPARATE doors.

  • Scenario 1: The host always opens the non-chosen door, regardless of car or goat. A car shown means both contestants lose immediately. No choice offered.
  • Scenario 2: The host always opens either goat door that does not declare a winner, but can declare a loser (random goat 1/2)
  • Scenario 3: The host always opens the non-chosen door if it's a goat (2/3), but chooses a random contestant's door if the non-chosen door is a car.
  • Scenario 3a: The contestants do not know this rule
  • Scenario 3b: The contestants do know this rule

In each scenario, the option to switch is given, not forced. In what cases is it advantageous to switch?


The billion door equivalencies:

  • Scenario 1: The host always opens the 1 billion minus 2 remaining doors
  • Scenario 1a: There is one remaining door and 1 billion minus 1 contestants

As I'm running through the permutations of this in my head, I realize that adding multiple contestants greatly convolutes the problem. With two contestants head to head, the math is indicative that at least one of the contestants is likely to have chosen the car (2 contestants out of 3 choices). More contestants means it's more likely that one of the contestants have already won the car. With multiple contestants already knowing that one of their set has the car, there appears to be little incentive to change even if the host shows a goat. However, if the host starts showing known losers the set of unopened doors plus shown losers increases the probability that the subset of unopened doors more likely contains the car than the original probability of the set of original choice of doors versus the set of total doors.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Excel Fix a Phone list

Occasionally, you'll have a list of phone numbers that need a little fixing. This code fixes many things as long as the last 8 digits are like 555-1212 and there's three digits of area code either preceded by "(" or flush left as in "(555)555-1212" or "555-555-1212". The result will always be formatted as (555) 555-1212, unless an area code is given.

A2 represents where the broken number is stored.


=CONCATENATE("(",IF(LEN(A2)<9,"555",IF(LEFT(A2,1)="(",MID(A2,2,3),LEFT(A2,3))),") ",RIGHT(A2,8))


You should change 555 to your local area code.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Diebold and the voting (NON) fiasco

I don't exactly know why people need to be told this, but all the comments blaming Diebold for the election problems miss very important points.


  1. The problem of dropped votes is because the memory cards got switched too fast.


    Imagine using a funnel to fill a canister, and you switched your source material before it was finished. The data transfer rates of memory cards are only so fast, and people are in such a hurry that they don't wait for the data to transfer fully.
    Or, if you're wanting a real-world application: You didn't transfer all of your pictures from your memory card before swapping to another.
  2. "Antivirus on a voting machine? Are you serious?"


    No, silly. Antivirus isn't necessarily on the voting machine. It's on the server that handles (receives and tabulates) the data. Misconfigured or not optimally configured, it could delay or delete data coming from memory cards as it scans the data transfer in real time. This *IS* the function of antivirus software and it does have the potential to cause issues with data transfer *at the server.*
  3. Diebold is in cohoots with the Republicans


    Of course they are. And the democrats who are in charge of the House and Senate have done nothing to stop Diebold from continuing to place touchscreen machines.
  4. ATMs don't have these problems.


    And Diebold is involved with ATMs. ATMs are not necessarily used for gathering data from several thousand people in one day by volunteers. It doesn't mean that ATMs don't gather data and transfer it, but I bet it's likely that the ATMs handle transactions with the servers in real time, rather than hand inputed memory card swapping at the end of a long day.

Disclaimer: I shouldn't need one. I am a computer guy. I have no real or imagined association with any of the parties involved, except that I vote touchscreen and I use ATMs with Diebold logos. If you don't want to vote touchscreen, get an absentee ballet. If you disagree with my observations, that's fine. I'm not telling you to believe me. This *is* my blog.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

xorg.conf multiple users compiz issue

OK, here's the deal. I figured out how to turn off the TV "Unknown" and it worked.
I tested it in an alternate user logon.
Thing was, I couldn't get compiz to work -- but compiz works on just on ONE login. Mostly, it was "Can't do that" or "checking for XGL not present" on the other login. Making multiple changes back and forth... nothing.

Well, the answer is stupid and *for me* has absolutely nothing to do with drivers, even though I have an "unsupported" Intel card. The answer was staring me in the face from a little other error message: "No GLXFBConfig for default depth". Why this login and not the other?

The answer: alternate switch-user logons have new display numbers (see /var/log/Xorg.#.log) and by default, you don't have an Xorg.20.conf. Sure, sure, xorg.conf is supposed to handle it for you, right? nah. I have to put this to the test, but in the mean time, additional Section "Screen"s are the likely fix in xorg.conf.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Fixing the small screen on my laptop


My beloved Gateway MT6730 had one fatal flaw when converting to Ubuntu: The screen resolution.
It appears that the xrandr logic insisted I had a TV connected to my laptop and therefore would overlap two screens: one at 1024x768 which everything resized to, and one at my laptop's preferred resolution: 1280x800. It looks like this image. I'm certain if you're here, you know EXACTLY what this is.

From a command line, I found out I could do this: xrandr --output TV --off which kind of worked, except didn't survive reboots.

Here's the answer:
Edit your /etc/X11/xorg.conf and add these lines:

Section "Monitor"
Identifier "TV"
Option "Ignore" "true"
EndSection

Exit and do a ctrl-alt-backspace to reload X, and you, like me, don't have to worry about this any more.

Also, the "Unknown" display disappeared from the gnome-display-properties, as well as it fixed the same issue with the logon screen.

Monday, July 14, 2008

ASSP Tweak: Filename in maillog.txt

This is a simple change to ASSP (assp.pl) that places the filename of the email in the maillog.txt
First, find and change the following -- it's around line 2578 in 1.1.0 or 8046 in the latest release, inside sub Maillog. The bold lines were added. You'll need to restart ASSP to see this take effect.

Now you know exactly which file pertains to your email and you don't have to grep for it in /spam or /notspam

$Con{$fh}->{maillogfh}=$FH;
$Con{$fh}->{mailloglength}=0;
binmode $FH;
# logging filenames
mlog($fh, "'$fn'");

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Two Firefox ideas

Here are two ideas for Firefox. They might be mutually exclusive.

  1. Large tab. I don't exactly know the whys and wherefores about this, but it'd be, essentially, two levels of tabs. The idea is one of the following:

    1. The current tab above or below the other tabs, with some sort of gap at the place where the tab would be in the other tab arrangement
    2. The current tab is blank or small
    3. The current tab shows next to Help in the menu (for widescreen, this wouldn't be so bad
    4. The current tab is in the status bar.

  2. Additional buttons in the current tab. Especially, StumbleUpon Stumble, Thumbs up, and Thumbs down in the tab, not in the toolbar.

Well, if anyone reads this and could point me toward the right place, that'd be oh so cool. Thanks!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Friends in weird places

Imagine. Me. You don't know me. Probably. I'm not that interesting to know, unless you like computers, and even then, people who like computers probably don't socialize with others who like computers. I count on one hand the total number of friends I have. No, this isn't a pity party for me -- you should be so lucky to have friends in your circle. I don't particularly have time to spend on friends who live near me. By choice, probably. I make no pretenses about that. Home is safe. I can be able to be comfortable and still have contact with those people who make life worth living.

It amazes me the ability I have to influence other people, both professionally and socially. Not you, gentle reader. That you're reading my blog versus thousands of other whiny rants doesn't mean I'm influencing you. The point is more along the lines of how did I get my relationship information? To be honest, it starts with honesty and a sincere desire to assist people to Make Good Choices.

I have helped people stretch beyond their comfort zone into a social zone, and also have spurred people from inaction to action. Logic is best when it's served cold. Being unattached emotionally from a circumstance can provide a clearer picture over events in other people's lives. I think I'd term it "Perpendicularity" -- being able to see the line without being part of the line. Merely observing won't affect the trajectory, but certainly kibitzing of a sort can bring some positive outcomes. We'll see. As it stands, I'm mostly relying on the anecdotal evidence that when my advice is not followed, things aren't always resolved positively.

Then again, that's kinda the argument about the negativity of God, isn't it? I'm not positing myself in the realm of being God. However, assuming God gives good advice and it's not followed, why would one blame God for the result? I think people don't want to be told things. They simply want to be absolved of their own mistakes. I hope I can better offer prevention than absolution.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My Son's Train Table

I had some fun a few months ago setting up Trent's table. It still is in tact, amazingly, and I thought I'd just show it off for posterity.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Use GIMP to make words follow a path


I'm the least likely of people to show you how to do something on GIMP, but since I figured out how to do it without reading a manual, I thought I'd paste it here.

I figure I'd come up with something that looks like this:

Yeah, well, you can do better, I'm sure.

Start with a blank image large enough to handle the dimensions you need. Use the Path tool (Press B) and click some strange path.

Use the text tool (Press T) and type something appropriate and set the font large enough to be approximately the length of the path. Press the Text along Path button. This might need some trial and error: undo, resize, Text along Path, until the Text fills the path appropriately.


Now that you've got the text as a path, you should be able to delete the text layer that you've created. Your text is now a path. You can do some fun things like paint along path to use the path as an outline, or you can use Path to Selection. Now, use the bucket (Shift-B) for solid fill or gradient (L) across your space and you get something like this:

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

We've seen George Bush compared to a chimpanzee...

Could anyone dare compare another popular candidate to a chimpanzee? I'm just saying.

The question has been asked and the comments are ridiculous. No, idiots, forget that one wouldn't do it because of x or y especially because democrats have the ability to get away with things that others cannot. It doesn't matter if cognitively the candidate should or should not be compared. If pictures are pictures, why not simply compare pictures?

Yes, that's right. I'm simply saying that race has nothing to do with comparisons, until you're offended.

You know what? If you're voting for someone simply and primarily because that person's skin color more or less matches yours or because of skin color, you're a racist. If you're voting for someone because that person is actually good for the constituency, that is a better plan.

Can "Freethinking" be paralized?

Dan Barker writes
Any morality which is based on an unyielding structure above and beyond humanity is dangerous to human beings. History is filled with examples of what religious "morality" has done to worsen our lot. Whole cities can be gleefully exterminated in God's name. Society's "witches" can be eliminated. Free thought can be suppressed, squelching any hope for progress. (Why else were the Christian-dominated centuries called the "Dark" Ages?) Under Christian morality, anything goes if it furthers God's plan. In place of Lewis's Law of Morality, more enlightened people would champion reason and kindness: principles that are pliable and human, not rigid and cold.


A Christian may write:
Any morality which is not based on an unyielding structure above and beyond humanity is dangerous to human beings. History is filled with examples of what non-religious "morality" has done to worsen our lot. Whole countries have been gleefully exterminated in the process of removing God's name. Society's "preachers" can be eliminated. Christian thought can be suppressed, squelching any hope. (Why hasn't atheism brought forth its plan for the new morality? Is lassez faire good enough? Is anarchy atheism's answer to government?) Under free thought, anything goes if you want it to. In Lewis's Law of Morality, more people should champion reason and kindness: principles that are steadfast and of the nature that the Bible proposes.


Yes, it's OK to look at the glass half empty. It's also usually just as reasonable to replace most arguments and justify the position. I have hope, and I have happiness, and I have freedom of thought. I also have direction in my life. I have the ability to make decisions because I'm not a watch. I'm not a robot. I am responsible for my decisions. The difference is: if I have someone outside of myself to be accountable to, someone who is the goal of perfection, that is the path I want to take. Without that, I feel being good for good sake is likely pointless. I might as well do whatever I can to die with the most toys in this world, for the option is this life, and nothing more.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Disconnect from wireless via command prompt

For whatever reason, I have to disconnect and reconnnect my wireless as I sleep and wake-up my laptop about campus.

Microsoft's netsh program is a panacea of sorts:
Disconnect from a wireless network by using a command prompt

At a command prompt, type the following, and then press ENTER:

netsh wlan disconnect [[interface=]interface]

interface Specifies the interface whose current wireless connection is to be disconnected. Not required if you only have one wireless interface installed on your computer.

---
So, I see Identifying... and I'm impatient.
Double-click my batch file: (Pause to wait long enough for the wireless to .. do something.
netsh wlan disconnect
pause
netsh wlan connect MyWirelessSSID

Refineries? Who's correct?

This may simply be a placeholder, but US refineries are running at 89.32% as of 6/13/2008. Source: US Energy Information Administration. Essentially, *Capacity* indicates an additional 2,000,000 barrels per day can be utilized.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Censorship bugs me. Especially by Christians against Christians

Christians censoring license plates bother me. From Forbes via AP

But a Methodist pastor who joined the lawsuit, the retired Rev. Thomas Summers of Columbia, said the plate provokes discrimination.

"I think this license plate really is divisive and creates the type of religious discord I've devoted my life to healing," he said.

Another of the ministers, the Rev. Robert Knight of Charleston, said the plates cheapen the Christian message.

"As an evangelical Christian, I don't think civil religion enhances the Christian religion. It compromises it," Knight said. "That's the fundamental irony. It's very shallow from a Christian standpoint."


OK, shallow, maybe, and maybe those fish stickers on the car and the protest signs in front of abortion clinics and the plastic American flags attached to cars...

But I digress. Shallow or not, people have a First Amendment right to voice even discriminatory language. The words "shall not be abridged" means no censorship, even by you well meaning Christians and you well meaning Separation of Church and State.

Establishment of a religion is not the same as acknowledging one. Besides, even if it's annoying or cheesy or whatever, it's two words. I've got two words for you. Bet they won't show up on a license plate, either.




God Bless!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Homosexuals can marry in CA. Response: meh.

As a people, there just aren't that many homosexuals out there that want to get married. It's pretty much a "meh" thing. Pro homosexual marriage people whine at perhaps well meaning people who have a differing opinion, but the end result is that there's no there, there.

Congratulations, I guess? The rhetoric flies to the extremes on all sides, but certainly thoughts like "Why can rapists get married and homosexuals cannot?" seem to invite some interesting commentary. I wonder, though, when should it stop? It's not the same as interracial marriage, at all. Yes, it was frowned upon for no good reason, but at least it was heterosexual marriage. With no definition of marriage being heterosexual, marriage is now being bantered as either a religious institution or a civil ceremony. Wait a second. Civil ceremonies are already allowed.

But is marriage doomed? It depends whom you ask, I suppose. It's not going to be as if the homosexual marriages are going to show up the hetero marriages for longevity, is it? If there are up to 100,000 homosexual marriages in 5 years, I'll be surprised. People always want what they can't have, and don't always like it when they have it. Meanwhile, it's only a matter of time before pedophilia and polygamy become possible for marriage as well. If marriage isn't about a man and a woman, but rather "two (or more?) people who love each other", then there can't be any real argument against it, can there? "But it's illegal!" So was homosexual marriage.

I'm not at all stating that homosexuality leads to pedophilia or polygamy. I'm saying that pedophilia or polygamy or perhaps bestiality is now next in line for this thing called marriage. What is there to stop it? If you are homosexual, and you disagree with pedophilia or polygamy or bestiality, under what criteria do you suggest that the line for extra-hetero marriage be drawn just for homosexuals and no other sexual inclination?

Meanwhile, I *will* go on with my life, not protesting, not boycotting, but also realizing that there are some doors that can't easily be shut once opened.

A return to del.icio.us

I haven't been on Del.icio.us in just over a year. I haven't bookmarked in such a long time because I have been using StumbleUpon to find new stuff. Today, I went back, because I care about the other people in StumbleUpon. OK. Maybe a stretch. However, I know that for every thumbs up that I make, 100+ people are sent to that site. Sometimes I don't want to be that guy. I'm currently researching room reservation/facilities management solutions. Not exactly stumble-worthy issues, and I wanted to track where I've been. Del.icio.us helps me organize my bookmarks in tags and I don't force people to go where I've been.

As well, I've recalled one of the other great reasons to use Del.icio.us: If I'm tracking and tagging these places, and I see others have, too, I can sniff and learn from their lists.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Printers sometimes don't print completely. Try a different printing processor

The call goes out, "Gerald! I can't print properly!" I look -- sure enough, only part of the printout actually showed up on the page. I tried mono, then color, then landscape, then portrait and ... nothing.

"I called tech support of the software vendor and the printer vendor. They said it's a network admin issue."

I'm baffled. If the software vendor can't figure it out and the printer vendor can't figure it out, what am I going to do? Ah. I remember. I've encountered strangeness before. I changed the Print Processor from RAW to something... anything else. What do you know? It worked. Fun day.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Hope is empty without action

The idea of Hope is audacious. When first I heard on a radio talk show about hope being useless, I felt, "How dare you! That's rather heretical talk, there." Of course, not in so many words. But then, I realized that the point is about those that sit on their hands and hope for a better something. Yes, yes. God is our Hope and Salvation. Got it. But our hope being in the Lord or a Presidential candidate isn't quite enough. Yes, I know. That's rather heretical talk, there. It isn't quite enough because if it was all, nothing would be accomplished. Churches built, lives saved, good works being accomplished -- these things require a slight bit more than simply hoping that they'll come to pass.

No, the idea of Faith, Hope, and Love, but the greatest of these is Love -- this idea is about the only one of these things that actually requires action: Love.

So, as we get all worked up about climate change (weather happens!), change one can believe in (dooty occurs!) and the great new hope, remember to start with one step in front of the other. Being paralyzed with hope or faith or life leads you nowhere. I wonder ... is that worse than change?

Right-click, New freeze in XP

I've tried shellex, shellnew, tweakui, and a whole host of other things that wouldn't fix a freeze or hang when trying to do a New context menu, either in right-click, new, or File, new.

Then I found it worked on another logon. That was enough for me.

For non-domains, it's pretty obnoxious, but you can simply create a new user and transfer stuff between old and new. Outlook Express is in a special case.

For domains, it shouldn't be too much of a problem. An admin can go in and in this particular case probably move or rename the ntuser.dat for the affected user so the user can get a new profile. Once that is accomplished, it should be rather trivial to move favorites, etc. If the old user folder was in c:\documents and settings\username, the new user folder will be in c:\documents and settings\username.domain.

Hope this helps someone. At least it prevented me from having to do a full reinstall of OS.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Meetings are a waste of time

If you can't tell me what you want me to do in an email, why bother? I've got a call ...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Oh, noes! The climate isn't just changing ... it's in crisis!

So the ad says at We Can Solve It. It's not just changing. It's in crisis.

Stop trying to scare me. Wanna buy some carbon offsets? I have them next to some swamp land and a bridge.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

17 inch Laptop Case

I tell people who'll listen to not purchase a 17" laptop if you think you'll be mobile with it. In spite of this, some people still want to lug around 10 pounds of notebook, but have limited ability to carry it, because 17" carrying cases are hard to find.

Here's one "17 Inches Black Laptop Case ENJ1617YBK" that's even reasonably priced.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

"Change you can believe in" is a stupid slogan.

Why not say, "Poop will happen!" "Tomorrow will come! Count on it!"

"Change you can believe in" is one of the blandest rally cries of all time. It is the epitome of the horribleness of the word "change." It's amazing to me that this is the political slogan of a highly popular candidate. "Hey, I'm for change! The candidate's for change. I believe he can make change!"

Some people think Christians are stupid because they believe in the intangible. Tell me, oh ye who do not believe in God, what makes "change" believable? I tell you what: I believe in change. I believe that things that happen in the next moment will be different from the things that are, now. Change I can believe in? I don't have to rally around a presidential candidate to bring about change. If the rally cry were "Toward a better future", *that* I can hang my hat on.

What if I believe that the change will be demonstratively bad? Heck, the candidate isn't telling me that the change I can believe in is a Good Thing. I'm supposed to fill in the blanks, right? What if I believe in a good change and it goes bad? Oh, that's politics for you. And lawyer-speak: "I never told you what kind of change in my slogan. You only *assumed* it was going to be change for the better."

Yeah. I believe I need a new slogan. Care to change it?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A great read, and a response to a comment

First: A story of friendship A great read in and of itself, and quite an interesting journey.

I have to take particular exception to a comment, because it comes from the same vein of anti-religious religious fervor that idiot Christians tend to do: be annoyingly petty and assume that, because they read something somewhere, it's all that needs to be said to people who don't *get* the reference, or don't respect it.

The comment:
do you honestly believe you wouldn't know how to act this way without the watchful eye of one of the most vile, selfish, vengeful creatures man has imagined (Yahweh)?
quick little quote that hope will spark debate and not name calling:

"is god willing to prevent evil, but not able?
then he is not omnipotent.
is he able, but not willing?
then he is malevolent.
is he both able, and willing?
then whence cometh evil?
is he neither able nor willing?
then way call him god."


People who pose such questions don't consider these questions in the context of being a parent.

Is a parent willing to prevent a child from being hurt? Probably.
If he's able to prevent the child from being hurt, but not willing to do so, is that possibly because he's allowing the child free choice? Is that malevolent?

Whence cometh evil? The same place as "cold" comes from. It doesn't exist. Evil is simply the removal of good from a situation in the same way that cold is the removal of heat. People who view God as vile because God allows free will are using the wrong argument. One could be fed intravenously in a bubble in a box and kept from all harm and if this argument was applied to a parent, the parent would be evil. If this argument would be applied to God, according to the quote, God could be considered not-malevolent.

Another point raised in the comment is whether it took God as supernatural to make the events occur rather than simply the goodness that is (apparently, according to the commentor) inherent in all mankind. I have yet to find any great number of people who do things merely out of altruism -- or mere Christianity, for that matter. However, I'd consider that the idea of doing good to uphold an ideal of Good is a worthy cause, even if it doesn't make sense because Good can't be quantified or measured or "sensed".

Friday, June 6, 2008

Number 10!

"Surprise from a sister in Christ!"

That was the instant message that started the chain of events that lead to today, the 10th anniversary of the starting day of our marriage. I'm so glad to be married to my wife, Tracee. It's been a really great 10 years, and I'm so much looking forward to many, many more. I am truly blessed with a great family, including a very awesome 4 year old. :)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Love and Sex -- The Movie

Just finished watching the movie Love and Sex about a woman who has problems maintaining relationships. It's difficult to build a strong relationship and maintain it, as this film would have you understand. I can follow that premise. It's not that I have had long term relationships in the past -- unrequited love notwithstanding. I have really the evidence of my past dealings with my own family, my current positive relationships, and the renewed friendship of a past ojet du d├ęsir gone wrong, made aright.

People are complicated, strange creatures. Many have layers and layers of baggage and insecurities that interfere with the progression of good relationships. For good or naught, the leads of this movie must part before they can reunite stronger than ever. That is the hope promulgated by movies of this genre: absence makes the heart go fonder. I can't really put that in context of my own life. I'm currently in the longest relationship I have ever had, soon to enter its 10th year. And that relationship started with a simple instant message ... (more to come.)

Monday, June 2, 2008

MySpace is pretty much useless to me

MySpace users who eschew accessibility for cool theme-ness do not invite real people to return.

Don't put white text on a variable background.
Don't make music start immediately.
Don't use really tiny fonts.

For the time being, I'm staying with Facebook. and Twitter.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Is it climate change? or Global Warming?

One of the things I keep tucked away in the back of my brain from a time management conference is that "Change" is a bad word. Change is a bad word *on its own* because it indicates movement but not direction. Change is, in mathematical terms, half of the designation of a vector. In order for change itself to be of value, it must be accompanied by direction.

The conversion of wording from "Global Warming" to "Climate Change" is indicative of the "bad word" that "change" is. The Global Warming pundits have tried to convince people that it exists, and have convinced people who might otherwise deny the existence of God, with criteria that they would decry if applied to the existence of God, they would accept whole-heartedly in the case of "Global Warming." Even the points made by Al Gore have been denied by his own graphs. Some esteemed scientists have indicated that, if anything, earth is in a Global Cooling.

So, now, we are inundated by the rather bland scare-term "Climate Change." First, it uses the ambiguous term "Change" (cooler, perhaps? warmer?) and then ignores completely the fact that climates change regardless of human intervention. They just tend to do that. If indeed we're in a climate cooling period for the last ten years (or 12 months?), what are we trying to prevent? And by what means are we humans expected to prevent it?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Are we allowed to criticize a black president?

Consider the rhetoric that has been incessantly hurled with no holds barred against our current President. Assuming that a "joking" morning show host could hurl visceral epithets or "funny" innuendo at the President of the United States, would the "funny" "jokes" be allowed in the context of a black president?

Currently, the media is reportedly enamored with a can-do-no-wrong eligible alternative to the presumptive Republican candidate. If the run-up to the primaries, and then the general election, allow a relatively inexperienced candidate to pass mostly unquestioned and potentially unscathed, is that because of the "idea" of the "ideal" or is it because to look at the naked emperor and call him on it is so horrible?

Perhaps, there is nothing to be called out upon. More power to such people who yet exist in this world. However, there is the premise that any questioning of a non-white must inherently be racist. Serious? Welcome to France. I think the big question is who is crying racism, and whether racism is being called out to obscure the question. "You can't say that! He's black, and he's President of the United States! Don't disrespect the man or the office!" What is interesting is that these statements will absolutely and unequivocally be shouted from the rooftops by well-meaning people who may have had no qualms saying infinitely more scandalous remarks against a sitting white President.

Can a purely objective criticism ever be levied without the taint of racism being implied? It should really depend on the people who feel that racism is evident in every bit of speech (and those who are influenced by those people). But those are the people whom we probably can never criticize.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Colorize your log files!

I posted my awk colorizer for tail before and the general consensus seemed to be "meh".

If you are greping through monochrome logs, you're missing out on color.

Here's my latest:

grep -l search criteria * | xargs head | awk -f colorit.awk | more

great for spam logs.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Install RealTek 8187b on Ubuntu Hardy Heron

Update 10/12/2008: Don't bother with this. Get wicd to fight the fight with this card (and other wireless cards). Also, for this particular card, I gave up and replaced it with an Intel 4965AGN, which solved a host of issues. The N card is overkill, because it provides three antenna posts versus the two you get. As well, the native Ubuntu driver (BONUS!) doesn't indicate it's an "N". However I hooked up to antenna posts 1 and 3 and it worked fine enough -- as in, I got it to get on the web reliably. At $30, it was a minor extra purchase and worth it to increase the reliability of the WIFI adapter. Also, it worked better in Windows during suspend/resume. Windows users will probably want to get the Intel driver, which works perfectly fine, even if Intel warns that you should get the driver that comes with the PC...

Original post:

Of course it wasn't working when I started it up, I just got a Gateway MT6730 (Great deal on Buy.com)

Anyway:
Wired network connection helped.
Go to Realtek and download the driver.

In the gnome panel, System -> Administration -> Synaptic Package Manager
Click Search
type in ndiswrapper
select for install ndiswrapper-utils-1.9

if you want, you can also choose the ndisgtk, but it shouldn't be necessary.
Click apply

From this website (It's in Italian) I got the rest of the information.

First, open a terminal, go to the download location (cd Desktop, likely?) and unzip RTL8187B_driver_only.zip
cd RTL8187B/Win98
sudo ndiswrapper -i net8187b.inf
sudo ndiswrapper -l
sudo modprobe ndiswrapper
sudo ndiswrapper -m
sudo echo ndiswrapper >> /etc/modules


By now, you should be able to click on the network icon of the panel and see wireless networks.
You should be able to connect to the network of your choice.

Please let me know if this works for you, or doesn't. Or if you have hints to make this better.

ETA: added a line for ndiswrapper to load after reboot.
Edit 12/2/2008: Changed the link to Google Shopping for the card, because the original supplier was out of stock. I can't imagine that I was the only one to buy the last one.

Ubuntu Gutsy make a CD from an ISO

How easy is this?

Insert CD.
"Hey, you inserted a blank CD. Make Audio disk/Make Data Disk"
Click Data Disk
Find and double-click your .iso file
Write CD

It ejects. You're done.

Tolerance is what other people want you to have when you don't agree with them

If you are a Christian, what should you be intolerant of? In my opinion, you should be intolerant of the things that make you a hipocrite. In essence, you should be intolerant of the things in your own life that detract from the message of hope and salvation that it is up to you to show others.

Intolerance is not being appalled at what others do. In Christian terms, intolerance is preventing those things from affecting your own witness.

God is good (not benevolent. Good). He has an intolerance to sin. He's allowed. Christians are supposed to be seeking God and encouraging others in the walk. Christians should not be telling non-Christians what to do. If the Christian path is the right path, the actions of Christians should reflect that. Internally, inside "the church", the Christians have the right, duty, and responsibility to maintain the proper intolerance to sin, in the same manner as an individual should also maintain that intolerance. However, that should be because it's in the body.

Christians should do their best to let their light shine before all men so that they may see [their] good works and glorify [their] Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

Christians should also strive for perfection in their own lives and love even their enemies.

Perhaps there is a lack in understanding of what Matthew Chapter 5 is all about. I really do understand the idea of indignation and what should *never* be allowed. However, the law has been fulfilled by Jesus, hasn't it? Is it not time for discussion?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Make an offline install of AOL full software

(edit/update for AOL Desktop 10)
So, I'm working on supporting someone who had an issue with AOL and had to reinstall it. Nevermind the other issues, there are still lots of people who rely on AOL for dial-up access. Although, for $29.95/month, can I interest you in DSL?

AOL's interface is a download manager instead of a full zip extract. For those of us on high-speed internet, it's a quick download. Don't bother installing the result... it's not for you, unless you want it.

As of this writing, AOL has three main releases: an allpurpose 9.0VR (includes support for 98/ME/2K/XP/Vista), a 9.5 release for releases >= XP, Vista, Win7, but not 98/Me/2000) and a Desktop release for XP/Vista/Win 7.

If you run the downloaders, but not the installs, AOL drops all of what it does inside of C:\Documents And Settings\All Users\Application Data\AOL Downloads\
9.0 is "C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\AOL Downloads\waol\0.4327.165.1\waol-0.4327.165.1.exe" (About 60MB)
9.5 is (in Vista) C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Temp\waol_single_4337.185.4.1\setup.exe (about 50MB for the directory).
Desktop (10.1) is "C:\ProgramData\AOL Downloads\NexusSuite\2.1.103.1\setup.exe" (About 43MB) (Updated 9/19/2010 for Desktop Version 10.1)

The whole size of AOL Downloads for those three installs is about 150MB, easily burnable to a CD or copied to a flash drive. Obviously, if you want to hedge your bets, the 9.0 is the most versatile, but with rapidly decreasing costs and increasing size of portable storage, having the choices on-hand is easier than ever before.

So, knowing where the installs start (the 9.x are not setup.exe) is important, but at least now you have the offline copy of AOL full software.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Nobody ever became skinny drinking a diet drink

Diet drinks are bunk. If one is likely to lose weight or not gain it, it comes by the standard methods of eating less calories than you use, and excercise.

Come to think of it, you're about as likely to shave those pounds drinking diet drinks as you would clipping coupons to become a millionaire.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Racism appears when you want it to

I'm reading an article at politico.com:
Obama Supporter Oprah Takes a Big Dive

I must make the disclaimer that I am not black/African American (whatever that means -- Hint: If you were born in America, you probably didn't come from Africa, and you will probably never go to Africa. Besides, there are lots of white people in Africa, and they are just a capable of being so-called African Americans. Further, there are plenty of dark skinned people who have origins of places like Haiti and Jamaica and the Bahamas that would likely never call themselves African Americans.)

But I digress, and while you're fuming because logic might escape you reading the missive above, the Politico article, in my humble opinion, is rather straight-forward, summarized thusly: Oprah has had a long and distinguished opinion rating. She backed, and later stumped for Obama, gained some traction for Obama's campaign, and then lost her approval rating.

If you didn't know that Obama and Oprah were both black in this article -- and while you might have to be living under a rock to not know these things -- the article doesn't make any statements or judgment calls relating to this fact, or its apparent effect on either Obama's candidacy or Oprah's approval rating.

So, who cries racism? Well, I guess it's anyone who feels that race is relevant. Why is it that *some* people of color can't get "that one day [they] won't be judged by the color of their skin" into their heads? I don't mean to paint a wide swath. Some doesn't mean "all", of course. A fact that might surely be lost on the people who might dismiss me simply as a whitey who doesn't "get it."

Let's take a look at a comment or two from the site:
What's wrong with you people? You typical white people? You've been given the opportunity to spew your racist hate towards Oprah's success. So glad you get the opportunity to come out of your racist country closets. Now, do you feel better since you've finally said it? Oprah is a billionaire!! Get it? She has fiven more to help you typical white people than your typical white president and his administration. You know..........the bush.cheney group, et al. Those guys are the reason the dollar isn't worth the paper it's printed on, thousands of Americans have lost their homes, the USA is in a recession,a YOU can't afford to purchase gasoline. Did black Oprah do that? You typical white people really need to denounce rush limbaugh and the likes, because you are really brain dead and useless people in a a modern and intelligent society. Your racism is not welcomed.


Let's take a look:
Source: 2006 Annual Report, page 18 The penny cost more, the nickel cost more, but the dime and quarter are way under.
The reason the dollar is depressing is because the Federal Reserve Bank is trying to prevent the market from crashing. Because the Fed reduces interest rates that banks loan to each other, it makes cash flow better. Unfortunately, the side effect of this action is risk of inflation. Why is the Fed doing this? Ideally, they should not have needed to. SOME people... OK, a LOT of people, felt that they could make money infinitely on the value of their house. So they took loans they could not pay for on houses they could not afford, with money they would not verify. The banks are culpable, but so are the consumers. Greed works in every direction. The people who have lost their homes, generally, put themselves in the position to lose their homes. To blame this on the Presidential administration is foolish.

No, the people who shout the loudest about others being racists, bigots, etc. have a lot of introspection to resolve. Whining about "You said something negative about a black person therefore you are racist!" is, well, the pot calling the kettle... you know.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

About my fascination with another blog

One of the parts of the movie, "My Fair Lady", has Professor Higgins writing to some organization to offer up Eliza Doolittle's father as being one of the great moralists of his time. An uncouth drunkard that otherwise would have been "the fool" of a Shakespearean play. "The fool", mind you, is not so much the one who knows nothing, but the one who can get away with saying the controversial things, sometimes the things which need to be said but can't by anyone else.

Indeed, this theme is evident by the tale of "The Emperor's New Clothes":
So now the Emperor walked under his high canopy in the midst of the procession, through the streets of his capital; and all the people standing by, and those at the windows, cried out, "Oh! How beautiful are our Emperor's new clothes! What a magnificent train there is to the mantle; and how gracefully the scarf hangs!" in short, no one would allow that he could not see these much-admired clothes; because, in doing so, he would have declared himself either a simpleton or unfit for his office. Certainly, none of the Emperor's various suits, had ever made so great an impression, as these invisible ones.

"But the Emperor has nothing at all on!" said a little child.

"Listen to the voice of innocence!" exclaimed his father; and what the child had said was whispered from one to another.

"But he has nothing at all on!" at last cried out all the people. The Emperor was vexed, for he knew that the people were right; but he thought the procession must go on now! And the lords of the bedchamber took greater pains than ever, to appear holding up a train, although, in reality, there was no train to hold.

In the end, perhaps one of the great moralists of my time might actually be the author of the blog "Violent Acres" and with whom I hold respect for calling out her own, so to speak, in her post Atheists are Snobs (Warning: adult language!). It's not so much that I should be biased to believe this one way or another, but that I could easily apply similar rhetoric to zealots of any type, including Christians. Reading her follow-up post, I feel enlightened further. While I doubt I'd be adequate fodder for any of her upcoming parties, I am quite intrigued to agree with her level of snobbery.

Also, I have to smirk a bit at the vitriol that she received on the former post. Not, of course, the mere fact that she received the attacks, but about the same realization that she constantly declares: she's not writing to please her audience. The humorous part, to me, is that snobs don't like being called out. When a radio talking head presented his belief of the thinnest-skinned group of people, those same people practically read him the riot act. Perhaps, on another post, I might be interested to discuss my viewpoints on why being offended should be a time to hold up a mirror instead of pointing a finger.

And VA, if you're reading, thanks for writing.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Skype Mic and testing microphone for ubuntu, Linux

How do I get the mic to work with Skype on Ubuntu?

This post says:
To fix this you need to open /usr/share/alsa/pcm/dsnoop.conf
and change

@args.SUBDEV {
type string
default -1


to

@args.SUBDEV {
type string
default 0

and then you have to fight your mixer:
I ran the default(?) alsamixer and played around with it until I figured out:
Hit [Tab] to select Capture
Hit [Space] to make ADCMux show Capture L R.
Use arrows to make certain the columns are somewhere in the green area.
Hit [Tab] and use arrows to find/hilight Input So[urce] (may not be necessary, but I needed it to be "Front", so I used up/down arrows to get the correct input).
Hit [Esc] to exit the mixer.

To test: arecord testfile.out
To hear: aplay testfile.out

If you get this far, Skype's microphone audio will/should work for you.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Violent Acres is holding a fund drive for charity

The Violent Acres Birthday Charity Challenge Begins
So if you’d like to help abused children and/or have an odd curiosity about what I look like, dig deep and donate as much as you can.

While I tend to not feel the cursing is necessary, that matters not to the reclusive author of the popular blog of a woman who'll "say some [stuff]." Actually, in my opinion, I find the tales rather strikingly to the point and, believe it or not, find a lot of what she says to be among the more forthright and on target versus other people who tend to blog.

Well, she's looking to raise money for a charity. If enough money pours through her Paypal account ($10K), she'll even post a picture of herself. On the other hand, if you just want to donate to her charity, that's pretty much OK, too. This is a scraped copy of her donation button:

You can donate via paypal:



If you don't trust the button, and why would you trust it from me? then make a direct donation to her charity of choice, if you want: West Valley Children's Crisis Center. Me? I get nothing. And given that I get no hits, generally, this is probably a dumb post. But *you* read it, and therefore I've hit slightly more than I expected. Thanks.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

awk before and after

This is attempt number one for my friend who wanted awk based before-and-after.

It's not very interactive, and needs some command line features. The point, I guess, is that you could use this in conjunction with my colorize awk function to have context sensitive searching of words in a way that less can be useful. ETA: Oh, yeah, the point was to add "before" context to tail-f filename | grep "search" , similar to how grep does it on static files. In this case, it's more of tail -f filename | awk -f thisfile.awk, and you could also pipe that through my awk colorizer for the double whammy: context (before and after search) plus color.


BEGIN {
numlinesbefore = 3
numlinesafter = 3
needle = "search"
aftercount = -1
head = ""
tail = ""
}
{
before[numlinesbefore] = $0
for (i = 0; i < numlinesbefore; i++) {

before[i] = before[i+1]
}

if ($0 ~ needle) {
for (i = 0; i < numlinesbefore-1; i++) {
head = head "\n" before[i]
}
aftercount = numlinesafter + 1
tail = ""
print head
}
if (aftercount >= 0) {
print $0
--aftercount
}

if (aftercount == 0 ) {
head = ""
tail = ""
print "---"
aftercount = -1
}
}


Of course,this is an awk program.

awk colorizer for tail.

One of the problems I have with tail -f maillog.txt | grep "search" is that I really did want to watch the noise and not just the signal. Except that I'd like to notice the signal. Here's my printcolor.awk Now I can use tail -f maillog.txt | awk -f printcolor.awk and see the whole tail, with keywords highlighted in *different* colors.

NOTE: ^[ is supposed to be Ctrl-v, Escape; NOT caret, left bracket.


function colorize(word, color)
{
c["red"] = "^[[1;31;40m"
c["green"] = "^[[1;32;40m"
c["yellow"] = "^[[1;33;40m"
c["blue"] = "^[[1;34;40m"
c["magenta"] = "^[[1;35;40m"
if (line ~ word)
{ split (line, a, word)
line=a[1] c[color] (word) "^[[0;37;40m" a[2]
}
}
{line = $0
colorize("whitelist","green")
colorize("Bayesian Spam","red")
print line
}



ETA: If you'd like to be annoyed/beeped at for something that you're looking for, you can add ctrl-v, ctrl-g in the right hand side, eg: "^G^[[1;32;40m" (not caret G)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Cygwin, X, and PuTTY

For Christmas last year, I got a new computer, upon which I immediately installed Ubuntu. Yay, Ubuntu! OK. And customized it to my liking. Also, if you care, I had eschewed the default email system for claws-mail, which I had also installed previously on my Windows Laptop. While not completely as GUI-rific as Thunderbird, I like the "individual message is a file" methodology rather than Thunderbird's "large file contains all messages" which basically failed miserably for me.

Right, so that's the background. The point of all this is that I'm here, late at night, and for whatever reasons known only to me, I wanted to check my mail on my now rarely used laptop (it has a broken hinge) while watching TV. Well, I didn't really want to check mail with the client on my laptop, because I didn't need or want to store the mail on the laptop. Plus, I didn't remember if I left mail on the server, so .. hey, stop asking questions, ok? :)

So, I remembered that I had already installed cygwin and X windows. I clicked on my cygwin icon, typed "startx" and then in the xterm box, "xhost +". Then I opened PuTTY that had a session that Forwarded X connections, connected to my Ubuntu box, logged in, then typed in "claws-mail" and I have the application running on my desktop in Windows. I suppose I could have VNC'd or other type of remote connection. However, the X interface makes the result almost seamless with Windows proper.File system is still on my Ubuntu, and so anything that happens disk-wise doesn't affect my laptop.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

VNC Multi-Viewer


I'm working as an administrator that uses Parent Pager computers around my campus. Sometimes, I just need to know what's working and what's not in a hurry. I found this VNCed program that allows me to see all my Parent Pager computers in one screen, then I can quickly go-to and react to the machines.

I can see how this also can be useful for multiple servers, and teachers watching a computer lab can easily see all the computers in their room in a heartbeat.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The other reasons that CD sales are declining

FACING THE MUSIC


The multi-billion dollar music industry has gone through wrenching change. Sales of compact discs, the industry's biggest product, continue to decline at an alarming pace. Correspondent David Faber sat down for a rare interview with Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman, Jr., and looks at a company, and an industry, struggling to reinvent itself.


The above quote came from this month's edition of CNBC's Business Nation. While the points made in the entry -- noteably record labels competing with "free" -- were on target, perhaps the more crucial fact glossed over is the form factor of the CD itself. While the comment was made that the CD is over 30 years old, the fact is that the form factor of the CD is its own worst enemy. Compact Discs are large, fragile, subject to scratching, and not the least bit easy to store in large quantities. Further, they just aren't that portable.

CDs also haven't changed much in price in years. Even the digital equivalents of 20 songs=$20 on popular pay-for music services defy logic for many who listen to music. It certainly isn't expensive in any sense of the word to provide music digitally. I imagine there's something to the effect of packing, packaging, etc for CDs on shelf, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the CDs have generally too little content worth paying for on a CD. Not all songs by one's favorite artist are going to be hits.

As I was preparing this blog comment, I was thinking seriously about SD Media as a music distribution media. SanDisk has already beat me to it, only in microSD format. And why not? (Except iPods can't use them, and they get lost very easily).

At that point, it is very clear that Apple itself has destroyed the physical music distribution method.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Tail for Win32 - Home Page

Tail for Win32 - Home Page

This is one of the "Oh, I didn't know I could do *that*" essential programs for people who want to know what's happening on their system. Want to follow the logs of WindowsUpdate.log in real time? Get this, and open the file.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Reflections on color

What's with Red, Yellow, Green, Blue as the 4 colors of most game pieces?

Red, Yellow, and Blue are the three primary colors of paint. Primary meaning that all other colors are derived from these colors, and the three primary colors are not comprised of other colors.

Green, of course, is made of Yellow and Blue. However, Green is one of the primary colors of *light*. Perhaps you've heard of RGB? Red, Green, Blue? ... In light, Green is a primary color. LCD screens use red, green, and blue colors mixed in various intensities to make all the colors you see on a screen.

Are there secondary colors? Yes. Secondary colors of paint are Orange, Green, and Purple. These are obtained by mixing equal parts Red and Yellow, Blue and Yellow, and Red and Blue, respectively.

Have you heard of CMYK? That's Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. While these are ink/paint colors, the colors themselves are secondary colors of light: equal intensities of Green and Blue, Blue and Red, and Green and Red, respectively for the colors.

What is interesting is that Cyan is "kinda" blue, Magenta is "kinda" red, and Yellow is ... yellow, hence we get to mixing "light" colors to make "pigment".

Dotted "Quad" notation for thread management?

Well, I'm thinking of ways to handle threads in message boards. Assuming that there can be infinite original posts, there might be a finite number of comments per original post. It is that part that I'm addressing.

It's not exactly "dotted quad", but it's close: FFF.FFF.FFF.... (Base 16 0-F)
Every "level" has 4095 siblings. Each time a new response is created, it either increments the current sibling level or adds a new dotted level. Threads have rather easy management and a calculable "number" for uniqueness. The unique identifier for a post/comment stores into a string instead of a numeric. The number of "."s indicate the depth of the post. A 256 byte string could handle 64 levels of children, grandchildren, etc.

I would estimate even the longest threads generally taper off at 16 or so *levels*, even if there are 4000 posts replying to the original poster.

In essence, this could allow 4096^64 total messages (1.55251809 × 10^231) with a numeric management overhead of 256 bytes per post.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

An Alternative Thumbs up/down

When I ws an avid Woot patron, it was important to me to find out whether or not it was worth buying the One Item a day ..whatever was on sale

But that was lame because of the people who clog the message boards up with inane posts.

I want to propose a Signal/Noise choice. Is this relevant to the conversation? Signal. Is this not? Noise. Further, as people vote on such matters, the sorting now becomes based upon Signal/relevance and not time or date of post. Threads are not needed. That is to say, if you want to read threads, you can do so by branch tags. The idea of branch tags is something to the effect of:

Original Poster Tag (ex: Money) Post#x, Money
Response to Original Post Tag Post#y, (Money-level1), Money
Response2 to OP Tag Post#z, (Money-level1), Money

I obviously haven't fleshed this out fully, yet. The concept is not to click to see the thread, it is to click to see the posts tagged with the original post. The generation of the tags to be used is the fun part. I might get there some day

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

LAN VNC Password workaround

As an administrator of a large network, when I came on board, one of the first things I did was to install tightVNC on all the (then, Windows 2000 Pro) machines so I didn't have to walk everywhere for every little thing.

It worked wonders, and I had one password for all the machines... until I had a few machines that needed another password because I needed specific people to have access and remember a password. and then I promptly forgot it because I don't record passwords anywhere. First, because I am admin, I have no problem to change passwords on accounts and let my users know what happened. Second, I feel it does provide some positive mental vibe toward me as an admin that the users can keep their favorite passwords secret to themselves.

But you want to know about the title...
So I forget the VNC passwords. I don't have to know them, exactly. I just need to be able to get remote registry to the destination computer. I open up regedit and click File, Connect Network Registry... and type in the name/IP address of my other LAN PC. Then I drill down to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\ORL\WinVNC3\Default and look at the Data Column of Password.
It might look like:
f3 36 15 94 f1 11 f8 a7

I create a text file remote.vnc as follows:

[connection]
host=remotemachinename
port=5900
password=f3361594f111f8a7

and now I have a file that I can double-click and connect to the remotemachine, assuming of course, that .vnc files are associated with tightVNC (default is yes).

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Preventing Global Warming is like ...

Clipping coupons to become a millionaire.

Yes, everyone can do his part. But we still need to survive in the way that we live, now. I realize that there are children, and children's children that will need to deal with whatever it is that they'll deal with.

The way I look at it, in a hundred years, there will be very little that can be done to save the populace from itself. The good part is that we've recognized where we are. The so-so part is that we've likely hit the highest part of our pollution percentages ... because we know them. Until the other countries start themselves to become industrialized.

Do we stop the other countries from so becoming?

I thought my teachers told me that plants like CO2

GE has an ad (Go here and click the "Tree" link.) which, inexplicably to me, has a tree hugging a house because it releases less greenhouse gases.

Trees like CO2, don't they?

Some other reading

Monday, February 4, 2008

Humanity has forgotten how to conquer

Well, let me equivocate a bit. If humanity has forgotten how to conquer, it is because it has either found enough resistance to therefore not be able to conquer, or it has no will to do so.

It is, perhaps, my ignorance of time required to conquer; but then again, I can give two examples resulting in much the same non-result.

First, conflicts in Iraq/Iran or Vietnam. A complete conquer could occur. A retreat by the occupying country and therefore victory claim by the holding country doesn't equate to a conquer by the original. Depending on how one perceives the issue, the time spent in these conflicts may be relatively short. The result is simple: failure to conquer.

In a longstanding, ongoing civil war, and/or the genocides in Darfur, one fines the struggle both sad and frustrating. In essence, a long drawn out process with no clear winner, and the aggressor simply can't succeed.

One might ask or assume that I am a warmonger with no heart for the people involved. On the contrary. However, it is in my estimation that when one attempts to conquer, one should consider doing it completely, quickly, and decisively. Anything less is simply a waste of time, money, and lives.

I wonder, seriously, if the problem people are having with any war is that nobody wins. In the pithy words of the movie "War Games", "The only way to win is not to play". OK. That's true when you play to a tie. But I'm not talking about Tic Tac Toe or even Global Thermonuclear War. I'm simply talking about winning completely. If you haven't come out to win, you have already lost.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Congratulations, New York Giants

I tip my hat to them for winning Super Bowl XLII. Well, there's always another year.

My StumbleUpon Visitors. They amuse me.

Not that they talk to me or anything. I am not female, for one. But I love to read people's profiles, especially when they use them for their own brand of intolerance.

Oh, I'm sorry. I can't say that and mean it, right? That's so much of a bigot, right? [/sarcasm]. Hey, you know what? I don't really care that you're a Secular Humanist and a Democrat. If that is all that defines who you are, you simply have chosen another path of conformity. As long as it makes you feel good, I guess.

What I'm getting at is that if you want to define who you are, define it in terms of you, not of in terms of a group. Hrm. OK, so it is "I" don't believe in .... Meh. So what? That doesn't make you unique. It doesn't make you that interesting, either. I guess I shouldn't be so interested. I just want to know what makes your, my, our place on this rock that hurtles through space that much more important. In the end, I guess, you, me, we don't matter much. In the grand scheme of things, we have the same viewpoints of the futility of existence, right?

I'm not advocating any bodily harm to anyone. However, I am asking what the point is of defining oneself in such broad strokes as being a member of a group. Is one a Democrat or Republican because one really hates the other party, or is one philosophically beholden to the tenets of the party to which they hold fealty? Really? All of those tenets? Do you know what they are?

Fine. Then we can talk civilly about life, the universe, and everything.

My Blog Layout stinks

I know it. But it does one thing that your blog probably doesn't do. It actually scales to your screen.

For Christmas, I purchased a 22" WXGA monitor,with a native resolution of 1600x1050. It's fun. Except when I StumbleUpon the websites that insist on having a single column for content fixed at under 800 pixels wide. Please, for the love of Pete, please consider that we large screen users can deal with both fixed width panel columns and variable width content columns!

Sigh.

Because it can be done. Part 2

The strange twist to me is that by the time I come up with a great idea, I don't always have a chance to implement it. Well, I guess like a lot of people, I have a desire to reinvent the wheel.

And, so I'm reading the man pages for beep and I realize beep is quite powerful in what it could do. Including different frequencies. Could MIDI be played through beep? ... Well, it appears, yes. Thanks to the MIDI Beeper.

What's all this obsession with beep?

It's pretty much so I could make an alarm, at first. Now I understand its potential to signal all types of things, including log warnings, etc. The other point is... without a sound card.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Because Linux can do it. That's why.

sudo apt-get install beep
sleep 5m;beep;beep;beep

My wife called. "Call the order in, but not for 5 minutes."

Sigh. So many different ways to handle this. I don't want to go to my microwave. or my stove. Besides, these things keep wanting you to turn off the beeper after they do it. I could open a calendar app. no. I just want to know when 5 minutes have passed.

And in 5 minutes, I get a beep. or whatever. And there ... it's done.

beep! beep! beep!

of course, I did it by intuition, not the right way. soo um.. beep -r 3 ok? fine.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Death of Windows? Not by the hands of Cheap PCs

Sears Says, "Let the Games Begin!"
LinuxHow2 - Saturday, 26 January 2008


Some people seem to think that Windows -- specifically, the larger hardware, and by proxy greater cost, exacerbated by the needs of Windows -- is getting hurt greatly by the cheap PCs.

I have to severely question that premise for some obvious reasons. One is the growth of Apple computer sales. In this case, Apple is enjoying growth in spite of (IMO) selling computers that are up to 5 times more expensive than a Dell or Systemax. Hey, It's ok. One can always get a Mac Mini...

The second reason to question the premise is the people who are putting Windows XP on all these low cost PCs. I don't care where one gets the license to do such things, but I'm certain it's still not hurting the pocketbook of those same people.

No, the market will still buy whatever the heck it wants, and those people who want only web, email, chat .... well, consider these cheap PCs to be the stepping stone to the next mid grade PC. Eventually, even the poor ailing college students will want more. Sub $200 PCs won't take over and squash Microsoft. It's just alternatives.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Something about Mac OS bothers me...

Update: I just learned about Quicksilver. (and Spotlight) Still, it's something I learned about after I wrote this.

Let's begin at the beginning... The keys are wrong, ok? So wrong that the standard keystrokes that I can use in Windows and Linux for browsing the Internet are ... well, let's just say misplaced. They aren't intuitive and they don't work.

I'm trying to work on MacBook Pro with the keyboard. Maybe I miss something, but at least in Windows, many of the normal keystrokes are given to you because the appropriate letters are underlined. Such as Alt-F for File. I am so keyboard centric because it's easier for me to blaze through what I need; and yes, I mean it's easier and faster for me to Alt-F, N or Alt-V or whatever than it is to change my thinking patterns around how to work the touchpad and oh, it's two fingers and that single button for a right-click ... Where is the Alt-D to get to address bar in firefox? Why can't I simply Flag-R, Firefox, ok and run the app I want? Or even Flag-Q

I think the point is that Mac is OK for people who must have a mouse to do everything. For the rest of us who really really can type faster than they can mouse, amnesia or no, I find the interface for MacOS disconcerting.

Yes, I tried RocketDock and tossed it aside because it occupied too much screen space. Yes, I know you can auto-hide it, but then what's the point? I don't care to look at a bunch of pictures that have no mnemonic value to me. If I wanted it, I could have oh, I don't know, a QuickLaunch bar. Or *gasp* icons on my desktop! Except I don't. Want icons on my desktop. Except what I am using. If the dock auto-hides, then why, why should I need it? By the way, autohide inhales forcefully in the case of RocketDock. Because it's either always popping up when I don't want it (top or right autohide) or it's on a side that doesn't matter to me.

I just tend to expect when I hit the key to the left of the space bar, and the F key, I get to see what the File menu says. I feel confident, between Windows and Linux, that certain things work the way they feel they should. Maybe that *is* why I like the default Ubuntu so well.

Hrm. It looks like I might need to check GnomeDo out as a SlickRun alternative.

Anyway, that's my rant for the moment. Otherwise, MacOS is a fine, fine OS if clicky is your thing.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Will a Vegan eat organic Animal Crackers?

Heh :) Just kidding. Rhetorical question. Unless you care to opine.

Getting nothing for nothing

I feel reasonably happy. I don't have to tweak Wine to run my Windows apps. I have Windows running my Windows apps. On Linux. Virtually.

I have *one* outstanding issue at the moment. The Gateway box has a video capture card that only has Vista drivers. And Virtualization doesn't deal with the card. In this case, I'll likely have to get a Hauppauge card to run natively in Linux. *fake sniff*.

If I need to run it, I'll start my VirtualBox up. Otherwise, it sits...patiently.. in save-state mode ... as an icon on my desktop. In 10 seconds, I have a working Windows XP "box".

Sometimes, a different look at free versus what you've already paid for is enough.

Watching MediaPlayer 11 on Linux

*Yawn*
VirtualBox + XP + WMP11 + Seamless + full screen = movies.

In my case, though, my 1650x1050 full screen seamless tended to drop a frame or two, but the audio was quite good, and didn't skip a beat.

Windowed Virtual seemed to be smooth and right on target.

If you want to watch Netflix Watch Instantly on Linux, why not give virtualization a try? It's not that hard.

Oh, and for the naysayers: Who cares? Chances are you bought a box with XP/Vista on it before you installed Ubuntu. Also, what do you think Parallels is?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

PXE, DHCP, and no DHCP

I just read about Installing Linux with no CD and a comment asks about PXE without DHCP.

From other comments I've read, and my own personal experience, there just isn't a way to do PXE without DHCP. PXE is built into the network card's interface. It's pretty much as hard coded as the MAC Address (at least, until you boot your OS). At the risk of oversimplification... OK, I'm risking it... the basic operation of PXE goes like this:

  1. Boot
  2. Boot order...Network
  3. PXE ... seek out BOOTP/DHCP broadcast offers
  4. get an IP address
  5. find out who handles tftp (perhaps from the DHCP server itself)
  6. boot from the tftp server

No, seriously, read the link above.

In any case, one might cringe and say, "I can't have another DHCP server on my network!" Well, if you're actually attempting what is described in the above link, the thought in my head is simply that you probably don't need to worry about that.

In essence, there are only a few barriers, most can be summed up by creating a DHCP server in your zone.

The barriers (as I understand them):

  • You have a router that doesn't pass DHCP
  • You have an administrator who doesn't want another DHCP server on his LAN
  • You feel that DHCP has its own administrative nightmare

It's ok. If you're already trying to install LINUX, chances are you probably are game enough to run your own DHCP server. But you don't have to do a big range. Just set it up with some settings like this:

host apxecomputer {
hardware ethernet 00:15:FF:FF:FF:FF;
fixed-address 192.168.1.49;
}


The point *is* PXE install of Linux, isn't it?

OK, if not, an alternate bet in this day and age is to boot locally with a Live USB Distro. What? You can't afford $10 for a 2GB USB flash drive?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I am blogging ... from my Wii.

I have purchased for my Christmas presents, among other things, an Adesso wireless Keyboard. WKB-3000UB. It connects to my Wii with a USB dongle and seems to be quite capable of interpretting my keypresses as I sit 10-12 feet away from my television, above which sets my Wii.
I decided to take a chance and see what happens. I am, obviously, pleasantly surprised.

I should mention that the mouse functionality of the keyboard that I'm using doesn't work. However, I think that I have a reasonably competent way of blogging if I want to do so from my couch, when I'm not on my laptop.

One of the downsides of this, though, is that I lose the Blogger save-as-I-type, as well as the convenience of the WYSIWYG editor for bold, etc. As well, I don't have the freedom of looking up a link as I'm typing, so I can include it in what I write. Home, End, Page Up/Page Down do not work, either. However, the arrow keys do function properly. It's funny watching the letters on the on-screen keyboard flash as I type.
Well, thanks for reading. This is proof of concept. I can't recommend you try this on your own Wii, or at least, don't blame me if you try it and it breaks your Wii, or simply doesn't work. And don't go buying this keyboard, first. You probably have a wireless USB keyboard. It might work. I can't vouch for what you, gentle reader, have in your possession.
:)
Have a great day!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

No sound in Realplayer 10

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=168080
ShortShort:
sudo apt-get install alsa-oss
edit realplay file (around line 71)
change

$REALPLAYBIN "$@"

to

aoss $REALPLAYBIN "$@"

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sugar is cheaper than corn

Corn Ethanol? Why convert corn to sugar to ethanol? Why not, oh, I don't know, start with sugar?

Also, stop removing our food to make fuel.

Playing games with Google Notebook

Google Notebook is an interesting product. I don't *do* notes, mostly, but I just found an interesting effect for Google Notebook: It stays on top of Firefox web window. It's perfect for keeping notes on games, especially games that give you level passwords.

Sometimes, you need to remember a hint or something from one level to the next, like the Idiot Test or keeping track of the clicks in Grow Games. Anyway, it helps because you don't have to alt-tab between the game and the notepad window.

BTW, I have this other thing... Side By Side - Google. Basically, if you want to do research while you're working on something in a browser, this SideBy Google thing frame-splits your current page and a Google search.

Unison, rsync, Versioning

unison is a cross-platform file/folder synchronizer on the order of rsync, with the ability merge text files.

I was thinking about versioning, and someone kindly pointed out that if one wanted distinct copies of a folder, one would simply replicate to a separate folder. So simple. The question then comes: synchronize to where?

I can certainly utilize 600GB at $84 per year. How about you? (S3 costs up to $90 each month for 600 GB STORED, not including transferring the data.)

Add in the ssh, maybe some support for PuTTY/PLink here, schedule it as a batch file, and you have a way to send a backup to an offsite server after it's locally made at your office.

ETA 1/22/07:
I see the traffic coming here from searches for unison vs rsync If you really want to know, they're practically the same. Unless you *know* what your goal is, rsync=unison the same way as wget = fetch = curl. For most users, the same arguments obtain the same results. One might find a need for a feature here or there, but it all comes down to whether or not you need x feature. For me, Unison is cross-platform enough.

Eternity, Infinity, and division by zero

So I read about anti-theists saying how it's improbable that a Christian can believe in Eternity yet also believe in a 6000 year old earth (100s of millions of years is "too long").

I ponder things. I realize then, that the after-life eternity doesn't advance in the manner of the calendar of humanity. Eternity is kind of like division by zero. It's undefined. Sure, according to the calendar that we use, eternity is simply another page, another second click, etc. In after-life, eternity is probably more like the clock stops forever.

I'm tired right now. If I figure out more, I might post.

Friday, January 11, 2008

ASSP - forwarding spam adds to whitelist

I have a specific issue where CompanyA.com split off with SubCompanyA.com and in the process, SubCompanyA.com's users still wanted to forever be reached by their old @CompanyA.com email address. Inside Exchange, I added quite a few Contact efwd emails which worked quite nicely. I have another post ... somewhere about using the exchange-to-csv export and import to help automate this process.

In any case, I noticed a LOT of spam that was resulting from whitelisted email addresses from spammers. It appears that my spam filter, ASSP, figured that all email coming from my Exchange Server is whitelisted mail, no matter how I tried to redlist the domains or users or anything. Why did my Exchange Server whitelist spam?

It turns out that the Exchange Server Contacts forwarded out through my spam filter to SubCompanyA.com. The question comes: how to avoid using my spam filter for SubCompanyA.com bounces? (of course, the other question is why the spam filter isn't kicking these out in the first place, but that's likely because of the whitelist=valid email issue. OK, it's circular reasoning, but let's stop the whitelisting)

This site Configuring and Using an SMTP Connector shows how to add an SMTP connector for problem domains. Ah! a solution! I set one up for the new SMTP server (actually the new SMTP server's spam front end) and now @CompanyA.com's forwardings to SubCompanyA.com's email addresses never touch (read: don't add to the whitelist of) my spam filter. This may cost my Bayesian filter to stop understanding valid emails between CompanyA.com and SubCompanyA.com, but then again, whitelisting between the two companies should already have occurred and the further CompanyA.com/SubCompanyA.com whitelisting is trivial.

Edited to add: Well, maybe not trivial, per se. After realizing what will happen (whitelist expiration of emails@SubCompanyA.com after 90 days), SubCompanyA.com's inbound emails will possibly need to be vetted each inbound time. Well... at least I can noprocess SubCompanyA.com inbound from the spam filter, so that seems to fix that.

ASSP and grep Part 2

I just used this monstrosity because I needed to get the email addresses of things that I knew whitelisted but I wanted to remove and populate the redlist.


grep "whitelist addition" maillog.txt | grep "my expression" | cut -d \> -f 1 | cut 33- > rlist


What does it do?

  1. It finds all the "whitelist additions" in maillog.txt
  2. For all of those, it searches for "my expression" to further limit what I'm searching
  3. It then cuts the resulting line off at the > delimiter.
  4. Then, it grabs the email address after position 33
  5. and dumps it into rlist

I probably *should* have used awk to do this, but I didn't have it, and this is the ugly way to get the email list that I wanted. Arguably, I could have used cut -d \< -f 2 instead of the cut 33- but there you have it.

Edited to add: actually, the latter option is better/more flexible. I'd suggest that in the future.

Further edited to add:
grep "whitelist addition" maillog.txt | grep -v "localdomain.com"
This shows me all whitelists that my server made that were based upon bounces (contact-forwards, usually), not from true outbound from local users.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Ubuntu - VirtualBox

On my new computer, I decided I wanted to work on not so much of the default OS, but rather Linux, so I installed Ubuntu as dual boot. Fine. But then I needed to access Roboform. Meh. Wine isn't all there, and ... well, I decided I was going to try this virtualization thing.

VirtualBox was it. I installed the "other" OS in a virtual window and now I can do what I need to on one without needing to dual-boot.

Actually, it wasn't just the new OS that I installed, but also XP ...it FLIES on the new hardware, even virtually. I can do the things I need to do and then go back and forth.

I haven't really done all I could do, but now I can play some games, run that software I need, including Roboform.

I know you won't believe or want to believe this: OpenOffice.org opens almost instantaneously on my XP VirtualBox, while it still takes a bit to open on Ubuntu. (OK, the third time I open OpenOffice.org on Ubuntu, it's instant...)

ETA: BTW, Before you scoff at this, this is EXACTLY what Parallels does on MacOS. Parallels has a market. Wonder why? Yeah.It's the same market that Wine is trying to assuage. Come on. VirtualBox allows XP in a Window on Linux. Or it can be in full screen "seamless mode" (I don't recommend/need it for my widescreen monitor. It's too sluggish.)

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