blarg?

Ok, I lied to you a little bit earlier. I thought that there
would be only a few things that you have to do to get href="http://www.redhat.com">Red Hat working properly, but
it turns out there’s more than a few. And I was way wrong about
gnome-terminal. Let me try again; I’ve got an old Transmonde Vibrant,
a P2/266 laptop with 64MB RAM, a 4Gb hard drive and a nice big, crisp
screen. And, thanks again Rob, I’ve got Red Hat 9. This should be cool,
but it turns out that it’s only sort-of. Out of the box, even
with all the services shut down, it’s onerously slow. That can
be fixed, with a little effort.

  • I say again, get yourself href="http://evilwm.sourceforge.net">EvilWM. At 23k (k!) it’s got a
    horsepower-to-weight ratio that beats the tar out of the 2.8 megabyte
    Metacity, even if installing in front of gdm is a pain in the ass for
    novices such as myself. Lucky for me I’ve got absolutely nothing better
    to do with my time than sifting through a snake pit of configuration
    files and shell scripts, no sirree.

  • I got me some rxvt, a thinned-down
    xterm replacement. On the assumption that the performance problems had
    something to do with the furious disk thrashing that, another assumption,
    were mostly about VM and page swapping, I took a look at the situation
    with “top”. Now, I realize I’m a noob and I don’t know nothin’ about
    nothin’, but I think that eight to ten megabytes of my precious, scarce
    memory for a freaking terminal window might be a just a tiny
    bit on the excessive side.

  • I have to work with Java,
    and some brief Googlage sent me to the good folks at
    Blackdown.org. href="http://java.sun.com/j2se/1.4.2/download.html#docs">Getting some
    docs is all good, too. This doesn’t have much to do with performance,
    but, well, hey.

  • Get Mozilla. Really,
    it doesn’t matter what you’re running. Latest, greatest, go get it.

  • href="http://havardk.xmms.org/dist/xmms-1.2.7-rh8-rh9-rpm/xmms-mpg123-1.2.7-21.i386.rpm">The
    XMMS MP3 thingy, obviously.

That’s what I’ve got for now. I suspect that it amounts to installing
Gnome and then not running it. It’s nice that I’ve got Gnome around,
I guess, but wow, is it ever slow. I suspect that’s because
it’s incredibly bloated, but maybe I’ve just applied the wrong theme
or something.

The other thing that I’ve got to do is figure out how to rebuild the
now-irreplaceable battery. This laptop, swoon, actually has a battery
that’s screwed together, so that civilized people with soldering tools
can open it up and peer at the contents. This might even mean that can
replace the innards at some reasonable price. Here’s hoping.

I’ve linked to commercials before, the title="Sorry about the previous typo.">BMW Films and so forth. Shame
on me, really. I don’t mind it, if they’re good interesting fun. Those
of you who have broadband should waste some of your time on the
following.

  • The href="http://www.sundanceonlinefilmfestival.org/home.html">Sundance
    Online Film Festival site has a bunch of great short films stored
    in a very unevenly-designed site. The homepage, for example, promotes
    the 2004 run but doesn’t seem to link to the 2003 site, and the 2003
    site doesn’t seem to link to some of their films like this gem, href="http://www.sundanceonlinefilmfestival.org/showcase01_04.html">
    A Ninja Pays Half My Rent. “It’s actually working out alright. I
    hardly even know he’s there.”

  • These guys are the reason that I
    never play ping
    pong
    .

  • Lose
    The Belly!
    Run!

  • I may have found the href="http://neon.polkaroo.net/~mhoye/pics/rusty.wmv">perfect pet
    for Arlene, but you probably shouldn’t tell her I said that or she’ll
    hit me again. You’re probably going to have to right-click-and-save
    on that .wmv file, but it’s not too huge. For those of you
    wondering what that could possibly be about, it turns out that it’s href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?holding=npg&cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=9481825&dopt=Abstract">the
    real deal. The thing that the Stanford people probably never
    mentioned is that keeping a herd of narcoleptic dogs around is a comedy
    goldmine. Well, that’s all for now – it should keep you busy until I
    have something interesting to say. In the meantime, to the lab, Beeker,
    to the lab!

I have, at some point, got to start seriously looking at the console
that I’m working in before I get my incompetent-sysadmin on. You know,
so that I don’t spend any more time trying stuff like getting root access
on the school servers or trying to get the CD in my laptop mounted on
Shaver’s machine in a Toronto colo. So that I can, you know, listen to
it on my laptop. Because the cable on these headphones is four hundred
miles long.

I should give Mike a call and just tell him my root passwords,
so that we can make extra sure that he never, ever uses them for
his machines. With the amount of effort I’ve spent trying to shoot
my whole leg off with hdparm and automount in the last hour or three,
he’d probably just have somebody burly sent by to rub my face in the
smoking remains of a hard drive, whack me with a rolled-up newspaper
and scold me.

Today on the way to school I saw an infant, a cute little kid,
nursing away at a bottle of suntan lotion while his mother
gazed beatifically around at nothing in particular. After overcoming
the stunned shock that had rooted me briefly where I stood I pointed
this out to her, which earned me an “Oh” and after several painful
seconds of watching the gears in her head tick slowly around, some
actual problem-solving motion, taking the lotion away from her son and
then tucking it back into the crib next to him.

I consider myself something of a lefty, in favor of socialized medicine
and so forth, but I really don’t think that my tax dollars should have
to be spent unfucking whatever’s going to go wrong with this kid in
twenty years when the person responsible for it is clearly standing right
here. A cute, inquisitive, defenseless kid; just for a moment I thought
that if there were any justice in the world, society would cover that
poor kid’s medical bills by selling her organs on the black market.

If common sense were a thing you could hold in your hands, I would
have sharpened it down like a prison shiv and shoved it right into
her neck.

I see today that the Canadian government is href="http://www.globeandmail.ca/servlet/story/RTGAM.20030617.wsoxx617/BNStory/National/">not
going to appeal the recent judicial rulings on same-sex marriages.
Double-happiness, both a little more equal rights in the world and
a big, moist pimp-hand slap to the zealotry wing of the religious
right. Legislation, presumably including laws about spousal benefits and
adoption, is apparently on the way. After what I saw today, all I can
think to say is that I strongly suspect that percentage of gay couples
in the world that are doing a crappy job of raising the kid they never
wanted in the first place has got to be significantly lower than the
national average, and anything that helps skew that stat downward is
just fine with me. And the chance to watch the Canadian Alliance froth
impotently is a thick, rich gravy, nearly a meal unto itself.

Let us take a moment to examine what you would think would be a fairly
simple syllogism:

  1. Sunscreen, as is its wont, screens you from the sun.

  2. If you do not wear sunscreen, you will not be protected from the sun.
  3. White people cook up just like ham.

Let us follow that up with two predicates:

  1. I am white enough that in the darkest Canadian winter I tread a fine
    line between “translucent” and “green”.

  2. I was outside all day at an ultimate tournament last weekend.

Now I’m a computer geek, obviously, so the light, it burns. Worse yet,
I can’t sees the screen on my precious. So you can imagine that I don’t
get a ton of sun; I haven’t built up an immunity, or anything. You would
think, Q.E.fucking.D, that this would inspire me to put on sunscreen,
but it turns out that no, I didn’t, ’cause it was cloudy or something. So
(or, as they like to say, “Ergo”) I’ve spent this week with my baked
pink skin peeling off my idiot head in strips; there’s a healthy glow
underneath it, I guess, but for a few days there I looked like a snake
that was trying to shed itself a drinking buddy. I’m glad that’s over,
but those of you who were hoping to pick up an easy DNA sample have
missed your chance. You’ll just have to go back to the old fashioned way,
I guess.

Thanks to some sensible advice and generously-provided ISOs
from Rob Russell, I have
switched from Mandrake over to the much-better-behaved href="http://www.redhat.com">Red Hat Linux on my new and very humble
laptop, and it has made me very happy. The switch has fixed, instantly,
all of the things that pissed me off about Mandrake, little thinks like
the CD suddenly just not working after it had spun down and the entire
boot process hanging if my USB ethernet adapter wasn’t plugged in. That
“Kernel Recompile Bones The Entire System” was a nice feature to get
rid of, too.

I’m starting to write up a few of the things I’ve worked out that
make using a new distro on an old machine feasible. I’m sure that
there’s a lot of those tidbits around, old-school Mac tweaks like
turning off icons in menus and any unnecessary services and so forth,
but the one thing that’s helped me out quite a bit is having a href="http://evilwm.sourceforge.net/">window manager that doesn’t
dim the lights when you turn it on. Getting it set up alongside Gnome
and gdm is the usual documentation-thin nightmare (“Now do the usual
things to your .xinitrc file” – thanks, champ), but once you’ve done a
few sensible things like renaming xterm and symlinking gnome-terminal
back to xterm’s old parking spot life gets a little more pleasant, almost
tolerable. xterm is still lurking about, for crying out loud.
I wonder if there’s an xmakefirebybangingrocks or xinventthelever lying
around in there, too. Could be.

This is only going to make sense to other Linux types, but I just have
to get this out of my system: I hate not having something useful show up
when I type “man whatever”, but I really despise finding out that
the information I’m looking for is safely hidden somewhere in those href="http://www.gnu.org/manual/info/html_mono/info.html">wildly-misguided
“info” pages. Way to keep that information completely shackled, guys.
Great work.

Sean, my man, href="http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&u=/nm/20030605/od_uk_nm/oukoe_britain_rap&e=2">this
one’s for you. Get out there and get your nizzles shizzled, folks
– it’s all on the up and up. When I get back here, I don’t want to
see a single unshizzled nizzle in the hizzouse, or there’s gonna be
tribbles. Or, um, something. Yeah.

I’m getting my Business prereq out of the way
at Carleton this summer, a “Management Information
Systems” course and boy, if you’ve ever wondered where href="http://www.unitedmedia.com/comics/dilbert/archive/dilbert-20030602.html">pointy-haired
bosses come from, I think I may have uncovered the source. The
incubator, if you would, the hatchery for tiny pointy-haired bosslets.
In this course we are learning how to pronounce literally several
cutting-edge technologies. And the course is moving so quickly;
we just don’t have time to cover any of them in the kind of depth you’d
find in, say, saran wrap.

I’ll do what I can, folks.

Old joke: in this month’s Martha Stewart Living, she’s going to teach
people how, with a few commonly available household items, you can
make bail.

Working from home today, I made the mistake of putting CNN on for some
background noise. It’s really no wonder that people are dying for a href="http://www.tivofaq.com/HotTopics.html#30second">way to stop
looking at television commercials. They are so, so insultingly
stupid, and if that weren’t egregious enough these incredibly dumb ads
are indiscriminately shoved into shows so far wrong that they couldn’t
hit their target audience with a tactical nuke. If I’m watching CNN,
am I likely to care when some kid tries to sell me a pizza pop? How often
will somebody be watching a damn kids’ cartoon at two p.m. and thinking,
in the back of their minds, “I need to refinance my house”? Yessir,
if I’m watching a sports event at eleven A.M, I’m likely to be thinking
about how I need a two thousand dollar watch. And I’m certainly thinking
about all those things twenty times an hour. Idiots. I realize
that you have no idea where your target audience is, here, but right
now you might as well be carpet-bombing the Moon.

And the lengths they’re going to to market their crap… Good lord.
Let me tell you what I know. A day without corn pops, as far as I can
tell, is a day without microcephalic teens in baggy pants. Gillette
would have you believe that using their product will result in your
being fellated by nubile space aliens; all Gillette’s ever given me
was a rash, but I assume that I’m somehow accidentally skipping that
middle, fellated-by-aliens step and getting right to the consequences.
Those aliens must be the same strange women who secrete wiper fluid
into their maxipads in the middle of major sporting events.

A couple of weeks ago I linked to
Paul Graham’s
bit about Java; one of his most important comments,
I thought, was that Java was explicitly designed for people that
the creators thought were dumber than them, and that it showed. I’ve
actually talked extensively to a commercial director, who said that
most of the good, interesting stuff that they film gets left on the
cutting-room floor in favor of what’s percieved as the most accessible,
which almost always means the lowest common denominator. I think Graham’s
right: when you patronize your audience, the audience can tell.

Grab hold of your mouse, we’re about to hit some hairpin segues and I
can tell you’re reading way too fast.

These days it href="http://www.off.net/diary/2003/06/#20030601">seems
like href="http://off.net/~shaver/diary/">everyone is having some
cat-maintenance (screech!) problems: maybe the lot of you could href="http://www.petoffice.co.jp/catprin/english/">shame them into
submission? It might work.

Madhava (screech!) has gotten it together, so he’s back in
the sidebar. If you feel the same love for historic cartology,
or even just for old maps, that I do I urge you to take a look
at the very-cool Ottawa and Toronto maps that he’s got links
to over there. I will not link to them myself! You must go
there, and get the full Madhava
Experience
! He had pled technical difficulties a while back, and
now that his new Moveable-Type-powered look has finally allowed his
otherwise-distinguished web-presence to stop looking like a damn Gap
commercial, I’m left with only one person to obliquely antagonize
about updates. You know who you are! And if you’re not sure, just
e-mail me; I’ll do my best to fit you into my busy oblique-antagonising
schedule.

I think we can all agree that women have a generally civilizing influence
on society. When you’re in a relationship that bar is raised that much
further, inspiring things like tidiness and more-frequent grooming and
preventing the rampant sniff-test grade-inflation that takes root
in guy-only residences. If you, like me, have been extraordinarily
lucky, you’re also in a relationship with somebody who’s very easy
on the eyes.

That said, women can say some pretty wierd things sometimes. And
by women, I mean “my girlfriend, Arlene”, who isn’t going to be
happy about this entry.

Exhibit #1: Let me set the scene for you. It’s mid-afternoon, during
an idle, layabout moment this past weekend. The love of my life is,
I had been led to believe, sleeping, her head on my shoulder. I am
gazing off into the distance, thinking no particular thoughts,
content to be relaxing on a couch in a warm, sunny room. I notice
her awake, now, and looking at my face. I look at her, smile, and
she says:

“Little people could ski off your nose.”

Ok, what? My nose? What the hell was that? I realize it’s not a button
nose or aquiline or anything, but it’s not like I’ve got the Bergerac
Escarpment jutting out from under my eyebrows here. What?

This caught me totally off guard, shot the wheels right off me. Even
at the top of my game I’d have a hard time queueing up a response to
the words “little people could ski off your nose”. Right then I was
barely geared up to parse the sentence, wildly ill-prepared to cope with
it. That woman has absolutely no regard for my afternoon plans or my
sanity; she casually shifted my ego from fourth into reverse and popped
the clutch. My unsuspecting brain, demolished transmission and all, went
careening all over the highway. I think I might have jibbered briefly.

This is the kind of thing that put Hemingway off adjectives, I’m sure
of it.

The biggest news of the day is that my good friends Chris and Darcy
are expecting a child. Their status as Only Fully-Formed Adults In My
Circle Of Friends was confirmed when this news met with both adulate
congratulations and concerns about how it would affect our Ultimate
rosters. To our credit, however, this was considered both in the short
and the long term.

This is both wonderful news and hard, in “yo, this is Life calling, it
might be time to grow up” terms, to cope with; given that just before
dropping that bombshell on us we’d had a wrapping-paper-snowball title="...in which I was unjustly abused, I might add.">fight
in their living room, there was an intensely wierd bipolar tension
on the room’s maturity level for the rest of the evening. Kids! Good
lord! They’re good people, I’m sure they’re excellent breeding stock and
so forth, but still, kids! People of my generation actually
have kids
! Who knew?

While I’m aware of how the general process works, with the holding
of the hands and the stork and so forth, I’m still somewhat emboggled
by the whole thing actually taking place. I feel like a kid watching
a comet or an eclipse; on some level you’re aware that this kind of
thing happens all the time, but it’s novel and strange and fascinating
anyway. And I’m just some guy they hang out with, not even a member of
the concerned couple; Chris and Darcy must feel like they’re teetering
on the edge of Cloud Nine.

I was going to talk some more about my weekend with Arlene, ’cause
a surprising amount of her visit was sketch comedy made flesh, but
I’m hard pressed to make the great, funny stories I have to tell
match up to this news. I’ll have more later, of course, but for now
all congratulations to the expectant family and good health and
fortune to all concerned.