Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Curse of O-Eleven

We've had an interesting year. For values of "interesting" that border on comedy-of-errors. And for values of "comedy" that border on "tragedy". We actually started (and stopped, and started again) keeping a list of things as they went awry. I won't bother posting that, but here are a few highlights...

Things that destroyed themselves (or each other, we suspect):
- TV
- Dish receiver (suspected of killing a crappy TV and a beloved DVR)
- Dryer
- Refrigerator
- Car (ruled a sudden suicide - melted its own engine)

Things that simply broke:
- Kim's tooth
- Kim's elbow and wrists (not "simply"; there was a spectacular fall)
- Bathroom light bulb (also not simple, burned Kim's fingers first)
- Neighborhood sprinkler control system
- UPS (details here)
- Internet access (including several entire weekends)

Things found in unusual, fun places:
- Detergent: entire bottle's worth, laundry room floor
- Orange pop: half can's worth, Kim's purse
- Wasps: old car's mirror

This year also marked a number of "firsts":
- Kim turned 30 (plans to do this many times)
- Owen published his first phone/tablet apps
- Owen made his first pony tail (Kim's hair, see her broken arm above...)
- We bought (instead of received for free) a television
- We now have the first "nice" car either of us has had

Plenty of other stuff happened this year, which we either can't think, of or refuse to speak of ever again. But from this point on, anything that goes wrong can no longer be blamed on the Curse of O-Eleven. We'll have to blame it on the upcoming end-of-the-world instead. ;^)

Happy 2012!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Uninterrupted Power Supply, Interrupted

Preface: a UPS is something a guy like me plugs his servers into. Picture a big heavy battery combined with a short power strip. If the lights flicker, stuff plugged into the UPS stays on.

Admittedly, I bought my last UPS in a rush. I don't actually remember doing so, but I must have picked it up somewhere last-resort-y since it has emblazoned upon it the logo of a certain squad of geeks who shall remain unmentioned. So it was definitely not the best ...purchase, I could have made.

But let us ponder a simple question not even of electrical engineering, but of common sense.
When the device eventually fails, should it become:
a) a heavy, non-battery-backed-up power strip
b) a brick through which no electricity passes whatsoever

I'll give you all a few minutes to think about that, a few more if you work for a blue-and-yellow price-gouging store or their branded-Volkswagen-driving subsidiary.

Did you get it? Do you think that a device, whose entire purpose in existing is to provide uninterrupted power, should be designed to fail in such a way that power will still be supplied? If so, good for you! You have the intelligence of a human being. Have a cookie!

If you got it wrong, then no, I don't wish I'd bought your damn extended warranty, so stop asking! The last thing I want at this point is another identical UPS with aspirations of one day growing up to be a brick.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Since before I can remember, all through school and well beyond, my notebooks and whiteboards and every hotel memo pad I have ever encountered has gotten filled with scribbled creatures. In elementary school, Kris and I filled a notebook with aliens whose names all end in "ork". The closest thing to a "party trick" I know is to have somebody scribble some random lines, and I'll make a drawing out of them. Nearly every time, it turns out to be some sort of weird-but-cute, possibly human-esque, creature.

Nintendo has just released a $7 toy (as a download for the 3DS) which not only encourages me to create all the critters I can dream of, it brings them to life.

Non-creative types don't get it at all, and perhaps the only audience for this kind of thing is a sufficiently weird person like myself, but I don't care how many peers I have; this thing is pure magic.

All the critters that make their way out of my brain and onto the screen spring to life and are at my command. They walk, swim, fly, and drive around a world inhabited by other stuff I've drawn, collecting gems for Ork or making deliveries for the Shmoe. Collectibles, secret blocks and hidden treasure chests are everywhere, often revealing yet more stuff to draw and customize as they're found.

I've been known to animate a handful of my drawings. Some have even found their way onto the web. But now, anything and everything I can scribble can be automatically animated and made interactive. I still want to tell stories and do some old-fashioned animation, but the bang for the buck here is unreal.

Thanks, Nintendo, 'cause releasing a new Super Mario, a new Zelda, and a new Mario Kart all within a month here apparently wasn't getting you quite enough of my money. ;^)

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Election Day

As usual, I advise you to get out and vote. This time I will also add, "while you still can".

Of course I don't expect the institution of voting to disappear anytime soon. There's voting in all kinds of places where there is no actual representative government. The US is simply en route to becoming one of those places. Not that voter suppression efforts aren't also underway.

My guess is that historians and intellectuals, so long as either are permitted, will remember 2010 as the moment the fatal blow was struck to US Democracy. "Money is speech", said the supreme court. "Corporations are people". With that, the influence of us 99-per-centers is on its way out, and the richest of the rich have carte blanche to buy up control and run things as they see fit.

This is actually not a partisan matter, but depending on your views, it's bad for different reasons.

This state of affairs is clearly bad for us progressives, since it means if there's no profit in X, X won't get done. Medicare, social security, education, any and all regulation intended to keep a spark of human fairness alive... If nobody gets obscenely wealthy from it, it's out. Privatize any and all remaining programs. "Privatize" is simply another way of saying "unaccountable government for-profit".

For the "conservatives" (an odd term since they do very little conserving) the picture is no less bleak. Make no mistake, corporate-sponsored government is still government. You hate taxes, but I'm guessing you also hate being nickel and dimed by fees, getting gouged by inflated rates, and being trapped in unfair contracts with no alternatives. And if you think the "free market" will save you, remember that all pretense of fair competition would be long gone if the richest companies had their way. Think it's hard to start a business now? Let's see how it goes when those you'd be starting up against get to write all the rules. You can elect and recall people who tax and regulate you. When corporations pull this stuff, there's not a thing you can do about it.

Of course, there are some things we can do about it at this point, if enough of us realize it in time. We have to understand that from this point on, a great deal of money is going to be spent lying to us, and trying to buy us.

An obscene amount of money. But it's a drop in the bucket to the top 1%.

We still have the vote, and the rich aren't in charge simply because they're rich. Not yet. The campaign will now be to convince us to tear down the things that stand between we the people and unbridled corporate greed. Labor unions and collective bargaining. Environmental regulation. Transparency. Public services and utilities. And most critically, education. The messages will be crafted by the best marketing money can buy. Much of it won't even look like marketing. Those of us seeking to be well-informed will have a steep, uphill battle, since the process of discovering who funded what is already disastrously opaque. We will be lied to every which way. In many races for public office, whether they realize it or not, every single viable candidate will have already been co-opted by profit-driven forces.

Besides the vote, we can move our money away from the giants and into local institutions. This is a pain, but there's help available. Since money and power now have a direct exchange rate, voting with our dollars is one of the few real retaliatory tools we have. Not that there's much stopping the big multinational guys from buying up the small local ones.

The endgame here is simple, and it is the goal of all business: profit. It will be the task of all citizens to be productive and create profit. Not for ourselves, mind you. Profit for those few who already have everything. In order to maintain the status quo and prevent an armed revolt, just enough civil liberties and profit-sharing will be maintained and well-promoted, dressed up in feel-good, patriotic and probably religious language. But liberty as we knew it will have passed. The fatal wound from 2010 is already looking pretty infected. Just look at all the teabaggers elected since "money is speech", currently making great strides in breaking down the government and handing over all the control and money to corporate giants.

Prove me wrong. Go out, vote, and for Pete's sake prove me wrong. :^)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

We carved our pumpkins...

We put on our costumes...

We had ourselves a very successful Halloween as Pirate and Parrot.

...and Cat.

Monday, October 24, 2011

More Carving

As of this morning, Halloween Artist appears in the opening, "Recommended" section of the HP app catalog.

To celebrate, here are some designs courtesy of numerous anonymous Jamba Juice workers on Utah Valley University's campus:

No shortage of good jack-o-lantern designers out there. :^) Some pictures from older releases are making the rounds on twitter as well:

Thanks for your interest (and downloads) everyone, and keep carving!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Halloween Artist

I've put together an app for the HP TouchPad called "Halloween Artist". It was fun to develop, and it's even more fun to play with. It went from being an idea I was pretty sure I wouldn't have time for a week or two ago, to being available in the App Catalog as of yesterday.

Kids in particular love this thing. The idea is very simple: draw face shapes on a pumpkin, hit a "carve" button, and boom, your design gets cut into the pumpkin and has a nice flickering candle glow behind it. Undo if you mess up, save a JPEG file if you like the result.

There's a little demonstration here:
...and a young friend of mine doing some beta testing here:

This is, I guess, just the latest in my established line of cute Halloween projects. :^)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Happy Blasphemy Day!

Yes, it's a real thing...

Let's celebrate today the idea that every once in a while, maybe we could be not so damn uptight about religion. I personally don't consider anything truly blasphemous, with the possible exception of operating a grill without a cold beer in your hand. I'm with Socrates here, the unexamined life is not worth living. So, I'd like to share some personal favorite life-examining "blasphemies" of mine with you, and what better day than today.
Joel's a guy I used to work with. Great guy, and very dedicated. He's also extremely funny. This link is to a subset of his blog in which he explores the idea of not interpreting the bible as stories and lessons, but taking it as literal history and fact. Hilarity ensues.
"Jesus and Mo" is a favorite webcomic of mine. It's very smart, and very direct in holding up its societal mirror. It's also quite humorous, provided the reader has a sense of humor.
Ah, the church of the flying spaghetti monster. Not much needs to be said about this; it's well-known enough that I can say things like "let's just pray to the flying spaghetti monster that it works this time" and people don't look at me with any more confusion or concern than usual.

I don't have much cleverness to contribute to this fine blasphemy day, but I will say that if forced to choose a god, I prefer organic, free-range deities to the ones kept in cramped, steepled cages. I just don't like the idea of cutting off a god's beak and pumping it full of artificial growth sacraments. Seems blasphemous.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Penduin's Ping Pong Paddle

The office got a ping-pong-slash-air-hockey table, and we all got paddles.  They may be miniaturized sports, but I'm still massively bad at them.  We all scribbled on our paddles to identify them though, so I do have something to bring to the table.  :^)

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The Yukon Blind Dream

I had many excellent teachers at UWRF, often taking the listed professor into greater account than the course description when signing up for classes. It's with no lack of respect for any of them that I single out Dr. Imtiaz Moosa as one of my absolute favorites. I may be a programmer by degree and vocation, but it's his philosophy classes I remember most vividly.

When I was in his classrooms, Dr. Moosa's eyesight was pretty lousy by most standards, but he could see. More importantly, he opened up students' metaphorical eyes by the roomful. This guy will make you think, hard, to the point of discomfort. And to me, that's a necessary and welcome element of growth.

Today, my dear old professor can no longer see, but he's as strong and bombastic (to use one of his favorite words) as ever. I recently got back in touch with him over email, and learned of a pretty extraordinary adventure he took this summer:

There's a lot of reading there, but it's well worth the time. He and a friend chronicled their Yukon journey, along with some hints of the fascinating discussions they had. I feel like I knew Dr. Moosa pretty well, for a student anyway, but reading his co-adventurer's account showed me some new sides and surprises along with the classic, familiar moments:
He insists on walking without being connected to me, and is quite happy walking into the odd bush / tree for that freedom. I describe the terrain and scenery, and he just responds with: "I just love this".
That's him, all right. It's even a good metaphor for those of us who loved his classes - we may not have had all the faculties to fully appreciate what he presented to us, but there's nothing we'd have traded for the journey.

Dr. Moosa and I talked a fair amount outside of class, with topics covering a full spectrum, but as I read the second-hand story of his vision permanently failing, I recalled a conversation we had that at the time seemed pretty insignificant. He and I both had pretty good-sized bald spots (though his was much more age-appropriate) and he was telling me how it was a source of embarrassment. My view was, and remains, "Well, it's only hair; I could be losing something useful". I remember him being impressed with my attitude, and maybe even a bit comforted. And now of course, he has lost something useful, and it feels like a pretty stupid thing to have said.

But it wasn't his hair or his eyesight that made him my favorite professor. If today we were to get into a good old-fashioned debate, and he were to bring my old words back to me, then I think I could argue my way around them. ...And that's as much his fault as mine. :^)

Monday, July 25, 2011


I've got it! I have figured out where the Democrats learned how to negotiate. Behold:

...If you or your browser don't want to play the clip, here's the highlight: "As a gesture of good will, I'm gonna give you another hostage."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Failure in Lyrics

Once in a store, and once in an airport restaurant, I have recently encountered a certain song. I have no idea who sings, it and I don't much care. It's catchy, but not my style. In any case, the song fell onto my growing list of "terrible crap that needs to go away" because of the following lyrical tragedy:

Just wanna make the world dance
Forget about the price tag

...So, an alleged songwriter somewhere needed a two-syllable finance word that rhymes with "world dance". A two-syllable... finance... word... Oh! I know, "price tag"!

Come on.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

GIMP Color Range Mapping

[note: This first section was typed in early February]

I've been a fan of the GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) for a looong time. It's helped me create and modify and fake many, many pictures over the years.

A while ago, one of its features vanished. The code behind it was a mess, and the developers didn't see its value. It would have been a pain to go through and make it work the way a modern GIMP plug-in should, so it (along with other stuff which richly deserved to get culled) was lost. Overall, GIMP got better, but a handful of people including myself really wanted our color range mapping back.

We had some tricks. An old binary of the plug-in would still load and run happily on newer versions of GIMP until pretty recently. But GIMP has moved on, and at this point, that crufty old plug-in just won't cut it.

Well, long story short:

I fixed up the code, and submitted a patch. With any luck, future versions of GIMP will include my refactor of that good ol' plug-in.

Here's what it does, if you're curious:

You define a pair of source colors (usually colors from your current image) and another pair of colors as a destination. All areas of the image that match your source colors get changed to your destination colors, and, most importantly, all colors that are in between your source color pair get translated as colors between your destination pair. It's very useful for altering images that have anti-aliasing baked in, or large patches of color with subtle-but-important variation.

...As you might see from the discussion on, even the developers don't really understand why this is so great, so don't feel bad if you didn't follow all that. :^)

[note: the following section is from today]

I've given up trying to convince the developers to take my patch. Or even look at it, it sounds like. It's too bad, but anyone else like me who wants the feature back can apply my code and have it. I'm tempted to babble about some of the common things that open/free software gets wrong when dealing with its community, but they're largely known.

Probably, I should have brought it to them as "here's a new feature" instead of "this went away and I've revived it". Then I'd only have had to climb the shallower "not-invented-here" incline instead of the steeper "we already decided no" one. Either way I'd have still faced "why would you want to do that", which is particularly obnoxious and spans all of software (and many other areas, I'm sure).

Ahh well, live and learn. Or, just live. :^)

[update: 2011-08-19]
to patch against stable release code (as opposed to the latest from the git repository) give this a try:

[update: 2018-01-10]
If building from source is not your cup of tea, others have figured out another clever way of resurrecting this feature:

Sunday, May 01, 2011

He's Dead

Holy crap. I've felt a lot of things upon hearing the news that someone has died, but this time, I feel like the world is lighter. Better.

Friday, April 29, 2011

How to Fix Ubuntu 11

I upgraded my laptop to Ubuntu 11 today, but I should have first tried a liveCD or something. The new "Unity" UI is a complete and unmitigated disaster. Maybe it would work ok on a little netbook or a tablet or something, but it's atrocious on a "real" computer. Anyway, here's what I've done to get myself back to a working, sane interface, should anybody else find themselves as shocked and horrified as I did:

1) Login with "Ubuntu Classic" instead of the new default. Duh.

2) Change Audacious's horrifying new interface back to winamp-style. Also duh.

3) Turn off Compiz's evil/disruptive/wrong/horrible "Grid" plugin.
(`apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager` to do so)

4) Get rid of the clumsy new "overlay" scrollbar.
(echo “export LIBOVERLAY_SCROLLBAR=0″ >/etc/X11/Xsession.d/80properscrollbars)

5) Not technically an Ubuntu thing, but fix FireFox's status bar.

There was also some cleanup to do with my toolbar, but it was pretty minor and the new layout actually has less clutter. Anyway, in the words of Dr. Zoidberg, "Life was bad, but now it's good! Forever!"

Friday, April 08, 2011

Grillin' in the Rain

We're grilling in the rain
Just grilling in the rain
What a glorious bratwurst
We're stuffed if not sane
Cramped below an overhang
The entire workplace gang
We're grilling, and drinking, in the rain

Monday, April 04, 2011

The 3DS

As is apparently tradition now, I picked up the latest Nintendo system right away. The 3DS doesn't have very many games yet (though it does still play the older DS library) but it does feature some pretty slick built-in stuff including a Mii creator (a superset of the Wii's) and a 3D camera.

There are also some "AR" (augmented reality) games and toys included, which are pretty crazy in technical terms. This is the kind of device that you really need to see with your own eyes, but I've pulled out the 3D pictures I took and put together a little web viewer for them. These are pictures which literally make you go cross-eyed while looking at them, but I can't think of any other way to show you 3D pictures through your 2D computer monitor. :^)

Also: anyone with a 3DS, I hereby encourage you to import my Mii from that QR code on the right.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cinematic Word Abuse

Hollywood, we've talked about this. Stop it. Just make up your own words when you need some hocus-pocus to happen. Don't steal our real words and abuse them.

It's bad enough in police mystery shows. "Encrypted pixels" and stuff. Don't use or combine words that you don't understand. It's bad writing, and the resulting scenes are bad. But now, there's a film whose very title is wrong.

"The Source Code", the generic deep voice says, after the entire plot is shown in a 30-second TV spot.

I've glimpsed plenty of ads for this movie, which only means it could be anywhere from six months before the theatrical release to sitting in the DVD bargain bin at the grocery store. But "The Source Code", which is English for human-readable instructions for a computer, written in C or Python or Java or whatnot, here means "some magical means of time travel". Do me a favor, while you're in your web browser. Hit "View"->"Page Source" to open the source code for this page; there's some JavaScript near the bottom. See if you go hurtling back in time. Did it work? No? Hm.

See, instead of "modern day vampires = $$$", the lesson that should have been learned from Buffy the Vampire Slayer is this: Set the show up on a hellmouth, or some other place where magic and demons and impossible-but-fun nonsense is real. Don't say the computer is magic. It's not. While we're at it, no more loser-in-a-tree vampires either, 'kay?

But back to my point, don't hijack real words and phrases! Source code is very important and useful for many reasons, but time travel is not among them! I'll even go one step further and try to be constructive. Call it the Ghost Minutes Spell, or the Past Injection Curse. If you really want to have computers involved, stick it in a Matrix-like setting and call it the Crisis Backtrace or the ... actually, I can't come up with any computer words other than "backtrace" that even vaguely could have something to do with time travel.

But who am I to tell Hollywood producers anything, huh? I've only been writing source code since I was six. ...And, come to think of it, I also wrote two terrible movies, complete with crappy (though not outright lying) titles. At least I had the decency to not be able to finish shooting the second one. ;^)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Religion in America

Of developed, post-industrial nations, the US has an unusually high amount of religion, per capita and in terms of individuals' levels of devotion. I've heard a number of reasons this might be true, but this morning I heard one that seems pretty valid.

Religion in America is business.

We have no "national religion" here, and the sane among us would like to keep it that way. What we do have is carte blanche for businesses to do and to grow in any way they're able, and this presents an opportunity for entrepreneurs: figure out how to keep the pews filled.

Insert a Mark Twain quote here about all the people of the world united in worshiping money. Business is the American national religion, and vice-versa. In a way, churches are just about the only Main Street businesses left. Attempts have been made at Wal-Mart-style mega-houses of worship, but they largely haven't caught on. Who knows whether that's good or bad, but it's what the invisible hand of the market has determined.

Religious disagreements and intolerances are, in this society, less about traditional persecution and holy wars, and more akin to brand loyalty. I'm glad there are less western-society-on-western-society bloodbaths and flame-happy witch hunts these days, but just like its relationship with politics, religion's pairing with business seems only to distort and cheapen it. What Would Jesus Sell? Evidently, he's a key spokesperson for guns, homophobia, and censorship of evolution and climate science. It's a bit hard to imagine the pacifistic, middle-eastern Jewish philosopher sitting on the board of directors going over the return on investment of these branches.

Personally, I have neither business acumen nor religious faith, but it makes me glad to see either used to help others. My employer, Messaging Architects, just matched all of its employees' donations to help out in Japan. At the same time, I find very depressing the common power grabs and the systemic corruption and the excuses to be extremely crappy to one another. I guess the lessons are the same. Our religious and/or corporate collectives have their own agendas, and can be measured better by the quality, not the quantity, of people under their umbrellas.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Gah, Spam

It's been a long time since this (low, low traffic) blog had any attention from spammers, but I got a batch today, every post on the front page was suddenly linking to some lovely pyramid scheme.

The good news:
I cleaned it all up, and now have changed the comment settings. Moderation is on, and so are public comments. So now anyone can post, but it's got to survive the filter known as me. :^)

The bad news:
Just as I was deleting stuff I think I saw a legit comment or two, which I also haven't had in quite a while. So if you commented and I blew it away, it was nothing personal! Try 'er again and as long as you're not selling the opportunity of a lifetime, I'll pass it on through.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Daylight Wastings Time

Grumble grumble... outdated idea that made no sense to begin with, stealing a precious hour of sleep every year...

Franklin had lots of good ideas, and Arizona lots of bad ones, but in this case I've got to come down on the side of not screwing around with the already arbitrarily-defined clocks twice a year.

For that matter, I'd be perfectly fine moving the entire planet to 24-hour UTC (or GMT, whatever you want to call it), maybe start chipping away at the mass delusions we seem to have about each being at the center of anything.

posted at: Sun Mar 13 18:44:04 UTC 2011

Friday, March 11, 2011


I'm proud of my home state of Wisconsin, for its good people being properly outraged by the recent disgraceful actions of its senate and governor. Keep fighting the good fight, fellow cheeseheads! Don't let these corrupt, backwards bastards get away with their bullshit.

I'm proud of my current-home state of Utah today too, not over anything political, but because when I pulled into the liquor store's parking lot today (in preparation for brat Friday) I wasn't the only one waiting for its doors to open. There was even a lady who took her kids in there, which I guess I've got more mixed feelings about, but salutations to we the few drinkers here in Utah valley.

I'm proud of the people in the middle east fighting for their freedom, and I'm proud of our president and everyone else who is sending aid to Japan and other devastated areas. There's a lot of frighteningly bad stuff going on at the moment, but we have to keep a level head and support the good guys.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Banterly (plug for a buddy)

My friend Proby has put together a service called Banterly. It's a live chat hosting service; you can join or set up public or private rooms for any topics you like. At the moment it uses Twitter for authentication, so I haven't tried it yet, but I'm sure he'll appreciate whatever little publicity I can give him. If you're a twit- I mean, if you ... use twitter, give it a try!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Gee Wiz

A while ago (a year? I don't know) I bought a GP2X Wiz. It's a little Gameboy-like device which, unlike most others, is designed to be open for all developers. My first reaction to reading about it was, "hey, I could get TONG to run on that!"

...If that was gibberish to you, TONG is a game I wrote ages ago in which you are tasked with playing Tetris and Pong on the same screen at the same time. It's very hard, and I apologize to anyone who has gone insane while playing it.

Anyway, so I bought a Wiz, with the primary purpose of porting TONG to it. But I got busy, and it became a lower priority, and then it just kind of sat there neglected and forgotten for a long while.

A week or so ago I came upon it and decided to charge it up again, and load it with some games from the internet. Time to see what people who hadn't forgotten about it had accomplished. As I was browsing and downloading various free games, what did I find but TONG! Some crazy person out there had found my game, played it, enjoyed it (at least enough to want a portable version), then dug into the source code and data, made some modifications, cross-compiled it for the device, then shared the resulting package with the Wiz community. That blew my mind a bit.

Anyway I'm very pleased. It's a bit of a quick and dirty port, using a slightly older version of TONG and the music was missing, but it runs great! I'm distributing a version of it myself now, with some new features, all the music intact and using the latest code.

Has anyone seen TONG spring up anywhere else? I was hoping to get it running on the Wii at some point, has somebody done that already? :^)

Monday, February 07, 2011


Affirm it, visualize it, believe it, and it will actualize itself.
It was right! I was going to take a photo of this, type some stuff in, and post it, but I didn't even need to! I just affirmed it (whatever that means), visualized it, believed it, and this post, complete with photo, just actualized itself! ...Oh wait, no it didn't.

And isn't "actualize" an accounting word?

Anyway, dumbest "fortune" so far. I've followed its instructions to the letter but it hasn't caused even a single beer to materialize before me.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

New Morning Routine

"Cat... Move, I have to go through the door."

No. Is mine sunny spot.

We done. You go way now.

Friday, January 21, 2011

You have a quiet and unobrusive nature.

That's my "fortune", according to the cookie I got with lunch today. Really more of an observation cookie, I'd say. At least it was pretty accurate.

I do have a "get out of the way" trait. I don't know if it's a recessive expression from the absence of the dominant and common "me-first" gene, or an overdeveloped sense of personal space, or what. But it causes problems when trying to buy stuff at concerts or when I have something to say but there's never a silent beat in a conversation.

Part of it is as simple as the golden rule. I hate being interrupted, so it feels hateful to do it to someone else. I don't much care for loudness either.

Part of it is basic courtesy. At a busy four-way stop, I can count to four without even having to take my hands off the wheel. Many people cannot, chief among them drivers of large pickup trucks. I find that annoying, but not enough to get assertive about it. Not against vehicles and people that thick.

In fact, my "quiet and unobtrusive nature" is fighting against this post being published. I'm not penning any meaningful statements, making any insightful observations, or even sharing any funny thoughts. I find myself asking why I should pollute the web with this, why I should waste the time of anyone who happens to read it.

Well, nuts to you, recessive genes! I'm posting! That's the way the fortune cookie crumbles!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I'm about 20 pounds heavier than I thought I was. My clothes still fit the same. Maybe it's all beard?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sony, Go Sue Yourself

Warning: geekiness and venting ahead!

A few years ago, a very fancy (though unimaginatively-named) gaming machine was released, the PlayStation 3. I got one, for gaming reasons (Metal Gear, primarily) and because it had a novel feature for a gaming console: the ability to run GNU/Linux (or other operating systems as well) out of the box. I get to write and run my own code on a high-end 7-core CELL system? Yes please!

Of course, games are the primary business of the system, but the "Other OS" feature was widely advertised and very appealing to people like me. Recently, though, Sony saw fit to steal that feature away from myself and thousands of other geeky, premium-paying, early-adopting, target-audience technophiles. A mandatory system update removed the functionality completely. (I sure hope Ford doesn't remove my emergency brake, just because relatively few people use it...)

So there we were, a bunch of geeks who want to write our own programs to run on our own fancy PS3s, with the rug pulled out from under us. Well, turns out that us geeks, we're kinda geeky. And some of us are pretty clever. (I use "us" rather broadly there; I personally have only a little knowledge of how the PS3 works.) Long story short, some very bright people figured out ways to once again be able to load and run our own programs on a PS3. What Sony taketh, the community giveth back.

Now, Sony has filed for restraining orders against several of the lead geeks who won us back our freedom. As best I can tell, it amounts to nothing more than a scare tactic. Nevertheless, let's boil down this chain of events:
- Sony: Buy a PS3! You can even write your own software for it!
- Geeks: Yayy! Here's lots of money!
- Sony: Mmm, money...
- Geeks: This machine is great! Gaming AND homebrew!
- Sony: Actually... no more writing your own stuff.
- Geeks: What?! We paid for that, give it back!
- Sony: No.
- Geeks: Oh look, we can still write our own stuff.
- Sony: Lawyers ATTACK!

From Sony's point of view, the new ways of running homebrew are cause for concern, because some folks will very likely figure out how to copy and play retail PS3 games they haven't paid for. (In fact, they already have.) But that's not why I care about it, and it's not why most other geeks care about it. We care because we bought a machine that we could code for, and we intend to keep it that way. We were quite happy with Sony's sanctioned, non-piracy-enabling "Other OS" feature. Once they removed it, what were we supposed to do? Stop being geeks and give up on something we already had? Have you ever met a geek? That's not how we roll.

There is a class-action lawsuit concerning Sony's mass theft, or bait-and-switch, or whatever one wants to call it. But it won't succeed; the law protects wealthy (and foreign, in this case) corporations, not consumers. The homebrew community, all of us still fans of the PS3, simply want the machine we purchased: a beefy system that plays games, shows blu-rays, and runs homebrew.

[update: the class-action case was indeed thrown out.]

That's what you sold us, Sony. That's what we all agreed to. You stole part of our own PS3s from us, and we've taken it back. If you want to sue someone for opening roads that could lead to piracy, go sue yourself.