blarg?

I’m not going to go into details here. Mistakes were made. Let’s not dwell on the past.

That said: in devising my excuses, have concocted the phrase “betrayed by an impertinent chardonnay”, which I believe will not only fail completely to absolve me of blame but which, if spoken aloud in a just world, would see me beaten senseless on general principles.

On the off chance that you, dear reader, were considering using the impertinent-chardonnay-betrayal defense as well, know this: I don’t think it will work.

Under A Blood Red Sky

This looked like a thin crescent moon against a cloudless, nighttime background to my simple human eyes. I took it outside my second-floor window through a screen at a quarter to four in the morning.

I can’t sleep. And it came out a half-moon under a rusted-out alien sky, the one hydro line across the shot turning into the light trail of some imagined passing vessel.

A little surprising, but pleasantly. I still love you, D40.

I’m so tired.

Limbs, $0.75,

A classic I think I’ve mentioned before:

Obama vs. Alan Keyes. Keyes was from out of state, so you can eliminate any established political base; both candidates were black, so you can factor out racism; and Keyes was plainly, obviously, completely crazy. Batshit crazy. Head-trauma crazy. But 27% of the population of Illinois voted for him. They put party identification, personal prejudice, whatever ahead of rational judgement. Hell, even like 5% of Democrats voted for him. That’s crazy behaviour. I think you have to assume a 27% Crazification Factor in any population.”

I mention it today because a poll taken by the propaganda arm of the Republican Party has Bush at a 27% approval rating.

They're Serious About This

This is kind of neat.

I got one of these recently after looking for a drawing tablet that was both largeish and inexpensive, and what I got out of it is pretty cool.

On its own, you put a memory card in the side and a pad of paper on it, and it will keep track of whatever you write, saving digital images of your sketching in a file on the card. Plug it in to my laptop via USB, though, and it turns into a perfectly usable drawing tablet plus card reader.

Works in Ubuntu just fine, surprisingly, though you do have to do a format conversion on the saved files via a script, and calibrate the tablet properly. I’ve got to say though that the fact that it worked at all, much less far better than advertised, was quite a pleasant surprise. All I have left to do is figure out how to calibrate it, and then figure out how to make it recalibrate automatically when I switch to a two-monitor setup.

So, the weather didn’t cooperate last week, and it doesn’t look great for this week. Apparently Toronto is where Vancouver people spend summer, or something. And in completely unrelated news, everything with the environment is fine.

But we’re going to make a second attempt anyway. Screw you, climate.

This Saturday night, weather permitting (and in all likelihood, we’ll just move the whole show inside again if that bit fails) we’ll be doing some more drive-in theater. But not a scifi theme this time, barring some outcry from a prospective audience. I’ve got more of an Early Hitchcock feeling about this one, but we’ll see what happens. The only guarantees are that it will be black and white and starting around eight thirty, and that popcorn will be provided.

As usual, or at least as usual as things get for something that’s happened once in a row, let me know if you’re coming!

To Whom It May Concern –

We have paid you, by my estimation well, for a 4-hour guaranteed-response SLA because we feel strongly that backups are an important part of a modern, professional computing environment in general and our critical infrastructure in particular, and that they should be performed routinely and with a very high degree of reliability.

We do not have a 4-hour SLA so that you have a three and a half hours to scrape some hobo off the pavement, hose him off and teach him the difference between a racked server and a used pizza box before throwing him into a cab.

Thank you for your attention in this matter,

-mhoye

The Random Red Button

If you haven’t heard about Dan Kaminsky’s DNS cache poisoning vulnerability, well, now you have. And while Dan had embargoed that information pending a coordinated update by all the major vendors to resolve the problem, apparently the exploit is alive in the wild. So anybody who’s running a nameserver out there, you need to flush your caches and update your machines immediately. No joke, you need to do this right now. Windows, Linux, OSX, IOS, doesn’t matter. An update is available, and if it’s not you can forward to OpenDNS, but get it done.

I’ve filtered out a few more of my very-late-now Hong Kong photos, and dumped a set from my trip to Lantau Island on Flickr.

The trip to Lantau was great, starting with another reminder of how backwards Toronto’s public transit system is; the trip was fast, fast and simple, all public transit and a cable car ride, in clean, air-conditioned comfort.

Did you know that subways don’t necessarily have to be filthy, decaying cold-war relics that can’t slow to a stop without screaming like a gut-shot banshee? That public transit doesn’t have to smell like a wet dog? It doesn’t need to be like that, and it’s amazing what a difference it makes. This town needs an Octopus Card in the worst way.

The Wire

Big Buddha at Lantau is a cable car ride away from one end of the Hong Kong subway system, and while I claim no broad experience in the field it’s definitely the longest cable car ride I’ve ever been on, about half an hour, and the views are spectacular and occasionally a little bit terrifying. I hope you’re OK with wide-open spaces and heights, if you’re going to take this ride, because you’re going to get those two things in spades.

Liftoff

More Airport

It’s probably the best view of the immense Hong Kong International Airport that your casual tourist is likely to get, and gives you a sense of the immense scope of that project when you realize that’s all reclaimed land. Then the ride goes over a long series of hills and valleys, every one making you think that OK, that’s enough, this must be the last one before you cross the ridge and see the cars trailing away over the next hill again.

The Long Road

There’s a path that runs the length of the ride. You can follow it winding away beneath you, and if I ever go back to Lantau, I’m going to do that hike on foot.

Buddha And Sky

The approach to the Buddha his own bad self is impressive, and only gets more impressive the closer you get to it. He’s on his own little summit, surrounded by some very nicely-crafted statues of supplicants bringing various gifts, and when you’ve climbed the up to see him, he only gets more impressive. Oddly, the gates they have to keep the tourists in the right lineups all have swastikas on them; it was a traditional Buddhist symbol long before the Nazis got hold of it, of course, but still a little jarring to those of us raised on a steady diet of Allied-propaganda history classes.

A Floral Offering

The Gate

Behold!

Apparently that’s two hundred and fifty tons of Buddha right there.

The rest of the town around it is a little touristy. There’s a both a Shaolin monastery and a Starbucks within two hundred meters of it, which I’m sure is indicative of something or symbolic of something else, but that mostly just makes me a little sad. And there were no swastika-barriers in front of either of them, which also made me a little sad, but at least the mental image of Ninja Monk Nazis lining up to get their caffeine fix at Der Staarbuckener was amusing.

But it occurred to me that, way back before the tourists, the cable car ride and the Big Buddha, this must have been a beautiful, secluded place. Take away all that convenience and this is the absolute middle of nowhere, an isolated outpost hidden in the mountains on the uninhabited part of the island, a significant ordeal to even get to, much less actually live there.

But I suppose that modulo “all that convenience”, a lot of the world is like that.

Talk To The Hand

Those of you who didn’t RSVP, or who lost faith because of the weather, you plain old missed out. We moved the 10×8 screen inside (where it just-just fit, taking up the entire end of my first floor) and watched Them! and The Queen Of Outer Space on the biggest screen I’m ever likely to have in my house.

And it was great.

“Them!” has stood up surprisingly well for a fifties movie. You know what’s going on coming in, of course, but the acting and writing are surprisingly tight; they’re a little heavy-handed at times, but all the little chances to insult your intelligence that the movie passes up are such a breath of fresh air, surprising in a movie more than half a century old. One that jumped out at me was when the cops come across a recent giant-ant attack and try to piece together what’s just happened, the water on the stove is still steaming; one officer points at it, and the other nods, and that’s it. It occurred to me that if this were CSI, one officer would be forced to say “The kettle is still boiling”, and the other mechanically reply “whatever happened here, it happened recently, maybe in the last few minutes”.

Your giant-ants they’re not perfect. But considering the movie is fifty years old, the fact that you don’t see any strings pulling them around is convincing enough, and there’s a lot of unabashed 50’s-era social flavor in there, too. A solid classic-sf-viewing experience, for sure.

The Queen Of Outer Space, however, is different. As one of my guests said, Zsa Zsa Gabor has been in one good movie in her life, and this wasn’t it. It is, on the other hand, a beautiful train wreck of low-budget sets, lower-budget effects, cartoonishly-fifties-era gender relations and a generous quantity of early-Star-Trek-looking Space Cheesecake. The militant women of Venus, it turns out, wear some surprisingly impractical outfits and some astonishingly poor choices of performance footwear. Is it worth watching? Possibly not. Is it worth MST3King? Oh, definitely; this is, by any reasonable measure, a bad movie. But it’s wonderfully bad.

Stay tuned, citizens! I hope next week to do the same thing, possibly with a different theme. I’m of a Hitchcockian inclination at the moment, but who knows?

If you were looking for a way to completely destroy any work you intended to get done this afternoon (weekend, month…) and spend it lost in wikipedia, I’ve got your starting point right here.

Fellow nerds, if you have anything important to do in the next few days, like “eating” or “communicating with loved ones”, do not click that link.