blarg?

Last week’s foray into inviting complete strangers to eat chinese food was an unmitigated success, even in face of Beltzner’s sensible observation that I scheduled it:

  1. during a Stanley Cup playoff game, and
  2. somewhere in Canada.

So we’re going to do it again. And Thursday works for me. But I note that the NHL is completely unheedful of my schedule this week, and they’ve scheduled another playoff game for this Thursday, the bastards. So I’ll poll some people, but I don’t think it’ll be a big outing this week. Next week, though, I expect legions. I’m going to invite the entire league.

The rest of this entry is going to be extremely geek-intensive, so you’ve been warned.


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There’s a place here in town called Chu Shing, on the northwest corner a block west of Somerset and Bronson. We go there sometimes to eat, because it’s good food and it’s dirt cheap after 8:00 P.M.

Because most of the people I hang out with are Ultimate players, we talk about Ultimate. And that’s getting pretty stale, but we need some sort of critical mass of interesting non-players to show up so we can talk about something else.

So, yo: if you can make conversation about something that’s not Ultimate and you’re less of an insufferable prick than I am, you should show up at Chu Shing this Thursday at 9:00 for a late dinner. It probably won’t set you back more than ten bucks, unless we do some absolutely heroic, industrial-strength eating.

And, hey, bring your friends. It’s not like they’re short of food.

Leave a comment if you’re coming.

I spent the weekend in Montreal with Arlene, at a very nice bed and breakfast that Sean recommended, for which he has my deepest thanks. We got in the standard touristy stuff on Saturday, like wandering about in Old Montreal and eating at Schwartz’s; the weather held out while we went down to the old port, ate crepes and just generally gawked at stuff.

Sunday,we took in the breakfast half of the B&B deal before taking in a 3-D Imax movie, and then it was off to the Botanical Gardens, a beautiful walk but I think we missed the window – not everything was in bloom, as pretty as it was.

Curiously, we ran into Alex about twenty minutes after getting into town; it was good to see him, if brief.

There will be photos soon enough, and more about the trip, but for now just this; I’d like to spend a lot more time in Montreal, because it’s so incredibly different from Ottawa or Toronto.

A lack of quantity has a lack of quality all its own, it seems.

I’ve been trying for days to write something that’s at least vaguely interesting, but I can’t find the hook. I’ve assembled a few clever phrases, like “that’s like telling Stephen Hawking he needs to start looking at the bit picture”, “what’s the going exchange rate between bitten and shy these days?”, and a passable paragraph or two that analogised a protracted sushi dinner and a game of battleship. But it’s just not coming together for me. I’m pretty sure that even if it did it would still be second-rate crap. Most of what I’ve been writing lately has been. At this exact moment, for example, I want to take the well-known anecdote about the boy looking for a pony in a pile of horseshit, put a writer in the boy’s role, substitute a decent metaphor in for the pony and have an editor on hand saying “There’s metaphors all over the place here, kid. Keep looking.”

And that’s not really working either, but that’s appropriate, I guess.

Well, shake off the rust and get back in the ring, I guess. I’ve always found the aphorisms of elderly robot fighting champions inspiring.

Last weekend I spent on a whirlwind tour of, er, North York, visiting Arlene’s family. It was what is usually is, but the food was pretty good, though the fried, battered octopus balls with fish-flakes, wasabi paste and mayonnaise was a snack I probably won’t revisit. I fixed Antoine’s computer, and ate fine food there as well.

I now own a copy of Shaolin Soccer which, you may not be aware, is the single finest moviegoing experience available to mankind. It’s not widely available to mankind, because somebody at Miramax has shovelled so much coke up their nose that they can’t smell money anymore, and if you live in some bizarro world where laws bought by entertainment conglomerates actually mean anything, that might be a problem. The rest of you, I’m sure, already know what to do.

Ladies and gentlemen, in today’s Two Minutes Hate the role of Emmanuel Goldstein will be played a Compaq product of your choosing.

As well, the duration of today’s Hate has been extended from two minutes to three and a half hours.

Thank you for your attention.

Dear Everybody Who Has Anything To Do With Software -

I am just a humble sysadmin and general-purpose technical flunky but if you have a moment, I’m hoping that you’ll take that moment to read this over and maybe take a few notes.

Let’s say that I have a problem with your program or widget, and it generates an error message. Here’s how I think it should work:

  1. I read the error message.
  2. I use the information provided in that message to solve the problem.

If there’s a word in there about whether you need admin privileges for the fix, even better. I don’t think that’s unreasonable, and I’ve heard that it can happen.

But hey, that’s not what happens. So let’s assume I’m asking for too much, because your company employs the same grade of mouth-breathing adolescents that, apparently,
everyone else does
, and your error messages say something like “OLE Graph_Snack_Widget Error 0x3ed33d32: Program Will Exit. OK? Cancel?” Of course, “Cancel” doesn’t actually stop the program from exiting, but let’s ignore that for the moment. This is about process, not details.


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Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, Article 3:


In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) Taking of hostages;

(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

Some of the neat things that I’ve run into at work recently:

  • A pristine, unopened copy of Caldera’s OpenLinux Lite. I wonder if it’s worth anything.

  • PrimeOS version 19.2.3. Never heard of it? Neither have I. The fact that it’s on a pair of 8″ floppies might have something to do with that, of course.
  • A box full of 8″ floppies. Shocking enough, but I also found an 8″-floppy drive; it’s the size of a small suitcase, and I think it’s made out of depleted uranium.
  • A 300-baud “Acoustic Coupler”, designed to snugly fit sixties-era bakelite phones for optimum whistle-screech transmission, or something. It does come in a very elegant wood-grain finish, though.
  • A Kaypro 1.
  • A 50-ft flat cable that has an RJ-45 jack at one end and an RJ-11 jack at the other. No indication of what it might have plugged into, if anything ever.
  • A Microsoft Cobol reference manual.

Some not-so-neat things I ran into at work recently:

Once upon a time, in dark ages past, I worked at a place that had the only sane network setup I have ever seen – a nested-star topology with Linux boxes at the center and Windows boxes at the peripheries. The Linux boxes, older x86 machines centrally administered with some clever application of rsync whose details I was not privy to, firewalled the Windows machines both ways so that even if somebody clicked on a malicious e-mail inside the gates, brought in their infected laptop, or somebody was outside knocking on some forbidden port trying to get in, the blast radius of a problem was always limited to a handful of machines. I’m told they even did some clever traffic analysis if need be, reporting back to base if there was somebody knocking persistently on doors they shouldn’t have been. Swoon.

That’s not what we have where I work. Here, we rely on a combination of DeepFreeze and shoe leather, which has proven (again) to be a complete fucking disaster. You’d think that MSBlast would have taught somebody something, but I guess not. Right now the way it works is this: if we’re fucked anywhere, we’re fucked everywhere.

Dear Microsoft – I understand that there are some really, really smart people working for you. If you could figure out who they are, round them up and fire everyone else, I’d really appreciate it. Thanks.

Dear Person Who Wrote Sasser – If I ever meet you, I’m going to punch you until you stop moving, and then I’m going to write down what I did so that I don’t overlook anything when I do it again.