Sunday, January 31, 2010

Wispy - Pixie

Why, yes, you can purchase this lovely dog-basket from my wife the Avon dealer.  Sans dogs. Why did you ask?


I see a lot of guys slagging on the iPad: lack of single-threading, it's a big iPhone, it's a lame tablet, wonk-wonk-wonk.

None of those guys have made a fortune selling stuff that people want.  I'll bet on the guy in the black turtle-neck over nattering naysayers anyday.

Friday, January 29, 2010


Torg is such a dork.

Torq is a loveable dork

Lovable. But a dork.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

If you have to ask why the answer is because the lege said so

I don't know about where you live. Where I live the city publishes a lot of content in the classified section of the newspaper. Public, legal notices, and so on and so forth.

It's annoying to have data managed on a computer at city hall only to see it slapped on to paper where you can't do anything but read it, and the local paper charges them by the line. So it's both expensive and awkward to manipulate. Gads.

I asked the city clerk why.[1] She heaved a great sigh and said 1) people have asked her before about this and 2) it's a state law.

I stipulate this made a lot of sense not so very long ago. It makes only marginal sense now, with newspaper readership declining, internet users increasing and every other handheld widget has net access. What about a few years from now when or if we don't have a newspaper in town?

I wonder how hard it is to get the law amended so that 'newspaper' reads 'newspaper or electronic medium'?

[1] Tip o' the hat to Steve Erbach who sensibly suggested that I call the city clerk and ask.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Coercion toward joy

From 'A Fire Upon the Deep' by Vernor Vinge:

Her fifth time in the garden was the prettiest yet, a coercion toward joy. The flowers had sprayed downy seeds into the air. The lowering sunlight sparkled off them as they floated by the thousands on the slow breeze, clots in the invisible syrup. She imagined what Jefri would do here: first pretend grownup dignity, then bounce from one foot to the other. Finally he would race down the hillside, trying to capture as many of the flying tufts as he could. Laughing and laughing -

"One, two, how do you do?" It was a child's voice, behind her.

' ... a coercion toward joy.'  What a lovely turn of the phrase!

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Ben is mystified about Democrat pols in Congress: they are acting all wimpy now that Massachusetts had elected a Republican to the Senate.

Megan has it right:

It's all very well to say that they should man up and pass it anyway.  This is the sort of thing that sounds very well from the comfort of your living room. But are you prepared to pledge that if health care reform passes, you'll resign your job?  Because that's essentially what you're asking them to do.

A rational army would run away.

Consider a simplified battle. A group of men on foot, armed with pike. Coming at them are some guys on horses.

If the men stand their ground,
(YouTube, ahoy) they'll win the battle.  Some of them will die.  If one guys slips away he can run away while his mates fend off the cavalry.

Nobody wants to be one of the dead guys.   Everyone comes to this conclusions, they all run away, everyone dies.

The guys who run armies are not dumb.  They are aware of this problem and have devised many ways to encourage young men and woman to be irrational and stay on the line.   Call it soldierly virtue.

If politicians has soldierly virtue, Ben's desire for them to show spine would be the default choice. 

If they had soldierly virtue we would not be in this mess in the first place.

Shorewest Resort - Shawano Wisconsin

Shorewest Resort - Shawano Wisconsin

For a reasonable price you get a room with the basic amenities: a bed, a toilet, a microwave, a fridge, internet. The rooms are clean, the owners pleasant.

Recommended if you want is a room in Shawano.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Rewiring your brain for fun and pleasure

Day started early with an issue in production: 04:45. Later that morning I'm dragging into the break room for a cup of decaf.

D: How are you doing Brian?
Me: Meh Better than I deserve!

And it made a small but obvious improvement in my outlook and put a smallish spring in my step. Plus we had a short but interesting conversation about JDE.

Nobody wants to talk to a grump.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

He said 'finger'

Jason Irwin sent this along.  Reading along I snorted and chuckled like a fiend: The Unix Guru's View of Sex.

Clearly I will never really grow up.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Last Day

Michael Fay is writing a book about his experiences as a Marine combat artist.

Chapter One ... Last Day
Chapter Two ... Remains of the Day

Suddenly I noticed SSgt V’s own cammie trousers and boots. Though unhurt, he was drenched in blood from hip to toe. The year before he lost a testicle fighting in Fallujah and two weeks prior he received severe flash burns when his vehicle was blown up and incinerated just outside the gate of Al Qaim. Today the blood and pain were that of fellow Marines. This was the only uniform he had. Everything else he owned had been burned up in the blast and flames of the IED. Those blood soaked desert boots would be worn for the rest of this fight and well into his next deployment. The trousers would stay crisp with the blood of fellow Marines until F/2/1 retrograded to Al Asad a week later.

A thing I did not know this morning

'Chortle' was invented by Lewis Carroll.
Coined by Lewis Carroll in his poem Jabberwocky, perhaps as a blend of chuckle and snort.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

White Dog

Rufus reviewed White Dog a few months ago: hit his link for informed criticism. 

It's better than I thought it would be.  A bit .. uneven. When Paul Winfield or Burl Ives are on .. man it's good. But Kristy McNichol ...

There are a few scenes where she displays actual acting.  In the rest of the movie it looks like the crew had a standing order to hit her with a taser before they started filming.

Because I am lame - a samba bleg

Because I am lame - a samba bleg

I've got a linux host.  I've got users running Windows XP who need access to about 3tb of data stashed at /opt/files.  Hey, I'll bet Samba can help! [1] [2]

Getting Samba up and running from source worked ok. And I can access it anon from the host itself. But Windows does not seem to understand the concept of 'anonymous' user and when I connect it insists that I gotta supply user credentials.

What the heck?

This is smb.conf

workgroup =
server string = Fogbreak Samba Server
log file = /var/log/samba/%m.log
max log size = 50
socket options = TCP_NODELAY SO_RCVBUF=8192 SO_SNDBUF=8192
printcap name = /etc/printcap
dns proxy = No
add machine script = /usr/sbin/adduser -n -g machines -c Machine -d /dev/null -s /bin/false %u
idmap uid = 16777216-33554431
idmap gid = 16777216-33554431
cups options = raw
guest account = nobody
encrypt passwords = yes
smb passwd file = /etc/samba/smbpasswd

comment = Home Directories
read only = No
browseable = No

comment = Fogbreak Application - Data Directory
path = /opt/files
read only = yes
public = yes
guest ok = yes
available = yes

comment = All Printers
path = /var/spool/samba
printable = Yes
browseable = No

And LO I can anon access from the linux host ..

[root@hostname samba]# smbclient //hostname/fogbreak
Anonymous login successful
Domain=[NA.COMPANY.COM] OS=[Unix] Server=[Samba 3.4.5-GIT-fb7af5c-test]
smb: \>

From the Windows host I have issues ..

H:\>net use m: \\hostname\fogbreak
The password or user name is invalid for \\hostname\fogbreak.

Enter the user name for 'hostname':

[1] I fully expect to have this fixed shortly - if only because I'm giving up and admitting I need help.
[2] And now I have two problems!

Monday, January 18, 2010

UAVs can't see the color orange

. . . due to a flaw in their color processing, American UAV's cannot see the color orange.


I thought that information was classified.

Dang.  Cat's out of the bag now. Don't tell the Black Hats.

Friday, January 15, 2010

I'm right here, but you've gotta shoot straight!

I've been shot at and missed, had me a divorce, seen things you people wouldn't believe, found the love of my life, witnessed a robbery, performed CPR, knocked 10 in the bull at 500 meters, sassed a corporal in front of a gunnery sergeant [1], been in a fight.

But I've never been threatened with an alligator.  Until now.

[1] Don't try this at home, kids.

Take the Choose Your Lyric Test

Choose Your Lyric Test.  Click the link, take it and rate it.

Because ... honestly?  My wife wins an iPod if the test does well.   Which would be a nice little payday for the time she put into making the test.

My results?  I'm an Introverted Intuitive.

This type of individual feel as if their decisions and ideas are intrinsic. Most feel that there is more to life than what you can see on the outside but an entirely other world exists that can be found spiritually. Spiritually does not necessarily mean religiously. You deal a lot with the unconscious and deal a lot with your internal senses. You are open to all types of possibilities in life. For you nothing is impossible.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

It mght explain some things

100,000 dead in Haiti.  And Pat Robertson says it's because the Haitians made a pact with the Devil.

Cue predictable and tiresome oaths and muttering from some quarters.   'What a dick,' they mutter.[1]  'Twisted asshat,' they curse.[2]

But wait! if you translate 'Satan' into the appropriate deity, they actually did that.

[1] Completely forgetting about the whole 'what you do comes back at you threefold' thing many of them profess to believe in.  That's not just the good stuff, or the really foul deeds, folks: it's everything.

[2] I might agree with them except ... man, does anyone actually pay attention to Pat Roberson except when he makes the news for saying  stuff that gets panties in a twist?  Stop paying attention to him: the rest of us have.

Shenanigans and Tomfoolery

This is for your own good, of course.

I discovered that new regulations, proposed by our administration, will make access to the funds in our money market accounts unavailable for withdrawal or transfer in the near future. They are afraid of a run on the banks in the face of financial panic by the public. Your safe, liquid cash won’t be available if Obama and Geithner have their way.  A long, wonkish article at  Zero Hedge is well worth your time.

Funding deficits with de facto asset seizure.

As described in this Bloomberg article, the U.S. Department of the Treasury is now officially looking at ways to force a portion of every 401k/IRA account---or some other as-yet-nonexistent, government-mandated employee benefit account---into "fixed payment annuities", which in plain English, means that most of the money would be channeled into long-term Treasury bonds.

The stimulus package didn't stimulate.

An Associated Press analysis of stimulus spending found that it didn't matter if a lot of money was spent on highways or none at all: Local unemployment rates rose and fell regardless. And the stimulus spending only barely helped the beleaguered construction industry, the analysis showed.

Welp, just another episode of 'You Get the Government that 51% of All Y'all Vote For'.

Monday, January 11, 2010

She ain't no Boomer

The anatomically-correct robot has an articulated skeleton that can move like a person but can't walk or independently move its limbs. Robotic movement is built into "the three inputs" ...

At this point my inner Beavis and Butthead spoke up and said, "Inputs. Huh huh heh huh hunh."

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Name tag

Hey server manufacturers,

Would it kill you to leave space on the back of your products for a name tag?

Where can I put the nameplate?

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Blood on the Risers

My step-son has orders for his new duty station: Fort Bragg.

This is appropriate.

He hit the ground, the sound was "Splat," his blood went spurting high.
His comrades they were heard to say, "A helluva way to die."
He lay there rolling 'round in the welter of his gore.
And he ain't gonna jump no more.

Gory, gory, what a hell of way to die.
Gory, gory, what a hell of way to die.
Gory, gory, what a hell of way to die.
He ain't gonna jump no more.

There was blood upon the risers, there were brains upon the 'chute.
Intestines were a-dangling from his paratrooper suit.
He was a mess, they picked him up and poured him from his boots.
And he ain't gonna jump no more.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Comment of the Day


Partway through, this is my favorite bit: “Dennis Downing, an Englishman, moved to America for the fox-hunting.”

Come to America! Not only do we have your culture here, but we do it better than your own country does!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

... except for all those other forms that have been tried

Tim Bray writes in 'Doing it Wrong' that we're building Enterprise Systems all wrong.    He correctly notes that a couple of guys self-medicating with caffeine and high hopes can knock together a Twitter or Facebook overnight and correctly notes that it can take years to slap up a working enterprise system.

The prescription: Delete formal specs, add ad-hoc process.  Goodbye, JDE.  Say hello to ERP Twitter and shake hands with a new millennium of lower costs and happy end users.

Here’s a thought experiment: Suppose you asked one of the blue-suit solution providers to quote you on building Ravelry or Twitter or Basecamp. What would the costs be like? And how much confidence would you have in a good result? Consider the same questions for a new mobile-network billing system.

The point is that that kind of thing simply cannot be built if you start with large formal specifications and fixed-price contracts and change-control procedures and so on. So if your enterprise wants the sort of outcomes we’re seeing on the Web (and a lot more should), you’re going to have to adopt some of the cultures and technologies that got them built.

The guys and gals in the IT department don't insist on specs and change control because they love them.  They have that stuff because they represent imperfect attempts to meet messy and byzantine business requirements.  Those requirements are already as simple as they can be: complexity costs money.

It is not possible to magically abstract that complication away by deleting JDE and throwing Twitter at the business.


An airman, a soldier, and a marine were sitting in the chow hall griping.

Airman: The Air Force is all f'd up - last night the air conditioners went out in our tents.

Soldier: No way.

Airman: Yep.

Soldier: You guys get AIR CONDITIONERS in your tents?

Marine: You guys get TENTS?

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Sucks to be you

I feel sorry for all y'all.

Because you didn't see my teen-aged boy pounce on what he thought was his little brother hiding in a dark room.  Which turned out to be  little brother's empty pajamas on the floor.

The "Ah ha - I've got you!" followed by a THUMP followed by a disbelieving "Owwww" really made it.

That was the funniest thing I've seen all year.

Life isn't fair

Alex went to a speech at JSC by Captain C.B. Sullenberger ..

Still, regrettably, very little of what Sullenberger said "stuck" to the point of my remembering what specifically it was he said, except one short set of phrases:

    We've all heard people say that life isn't fair. And while it's true, it's also largely irrelevant. Let me tell you why.

I went back later to my audio recording to transcribe the next few sentences:

    There's always a way to make your own little part of the world a little better. Now, I know - I acknowledge - that faced with the enormities of the world's complexities and its issues, it sometimes feels easy to give up. Sometimes, it looks like facing new challenges is akin to emptying the ocean with a teaspoon. But when you choose - and it is a choice - to make positive differences to the things you can control, you can bring benefit to the world.

Amen, Brother.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Welcome to Government Healthcare

Welcome to government healthcare
Standing in a chilly fall rain, waiting for the government to hand out flu shots.

Welcome .. to your future.

I see nothing

The incident happened at about 5:20 p.m. at Terminal C, when an individual walked from the public side to the secure "sterile" side for passengers who had cleared screening, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

Billions spent by TSA to secure airports and .. they let a guy stroll past the checkpoint going the wrong way?

Hours after a security breach forced the closure of a terminal at the Newark, New Jersey, airport Sunday, authorities were still searching for a man who went the wrong way through a checkpoint exit.

'Still searching'.

The TSA team at Newark is led by Sergeant Schultz.

TSA Team Lead Hans Schultz'
"I thought you were watching the exit ...."

Distopia with FTL

Even before a Nigerian with Al Qaeda links tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines jet headed to Detroit, travelers could see we had made no progress toward a technologically wondrous Philip K. Dick universe.

Isn't there a rule in journalism about actually knowing what is inside an author's body of work before making literary allusions?

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Avatar Non-Review

Avatar: Saw it, liked the snot out of it.  The 3D thing was very impressive.

I will leave the politics of the thing to other people: I go to the movies to be entertained, and Avatar did that very well.

Now ... can we have a block-buster mega-hit SciFi flick that features an actually competent military? 

H. Beam Piper's Uller Uprising would work read good in 3D, I think.

Uller Uprising 1983 Ace edition