blarg?

As a followup to a previous year’s Best Movie Souvenir Idea Ever, that being the wookieskin rug, I would like to present the Best Movie-Mashup Quote Ever:

“Are you a repli-can, or a replic-can’t?”

Don’t say I’ve never done anything for you, internets.

A Rainy Streetlight
I’ll be in Ottawa from the 26th to sometime on the 29th, but I will not neglect you, internets. You should not believe for a moment that we have fallen out of love. Understand, though, that when a man is far from home pimpin’ is doubly not-easy, even though it is likewise doubly necessary. In the meantime, internets, take care this holiday season. Safe travel to you and yours, and I hope this finds you well.

See you on the other side.

You might not know this list, but since I’m a nerd and I worked at TV Ontario for a while, a more than a few fellow nerds asked me if I could look into it and see what I could do about that name at the bottom.

It took some doing, but I’ve found her. She graciously let me pass on her address to Professor Knuth this morning.

It might take him a while to respond – he checks his email every three months – but I’m reasonably confident I’ve got the right person. I’ll keep you posted. And in a curious twist of circumstances, she now lives about an hour’s drive from drive from Stanford.

Go, me.

I’ve finally finished Lock’s Quest, which is pretty good news (spoilers ahoy!) and just in time for the annual winter humbug festival; it’s a great game, a few inexplicable bits aside, but after a while there the stylus-driven interface was just destroying my wrists. By the end of it, I’d play for five minutes, wait fifteen minutes until I could feel my fingertips again and then, possibly because it’s great fun and possibly also because I’m an idiot, play for five more minutes.

There are some minor oddities about the game, I should tell you – levels are timed for playability purposes, for example, the narrative excuse when you’re fighting your “clockwork” enemies being that they are only wound up to last a certain time. But when you switch allegiances and start campaigning against humans, they also fall over after two or three minutes in an oddly synchronized narcoleptic spasm. I can understand that the developers wouldn’t want to change too much in terms of gameplay as things proceed, but it would have been neat to see the differences in “clockworks” versus “people” be somewhat more profound than just the sprites.

That is a quibble, though, because altogether it’s a reasonably well-balanced and thoroughly enjoyable hybrid tower-defense/combat game. It’s got a plot on rails and there’s no attempt to bridge the tactical level you play at to anything like a strategic level, but that’s OK, really. And it comes with a storyline that is far more engaging than it had any right to be.

Oddly enough, it’s also the second game I’ve enjoyed this year involving clockwork people, the other being the very different but also excellent Professor Layton And The Curious Village.

So what am I playing next, internets?

So, the symptoms of today’s problem are a wierd mess of COM+, DCOM, certificate and domain-related errors including, but not limited to:

  • Kerberos problems (EventID: 7)
  • Logon problems (Event ID: 1054)
  • COM/DCOM problems (EventID: 10016)
  • DNS/Socket problems (EventID: 11004)
  • Occasional LSASS/Socket problems (EventID: 10107)
  • A collection of certificate autoenrollment errors (EventID: 15)

And, I’m sure, a bunch of others too tedious to list. Among other bizzare symptoms, are Kerberos errors on machines that have exactly the right time, errors saying “unable to contact the domain controller” even though it’s one hop away and (the reason we discovered it) you can’t see those machines from any of Microsoft’s management tools (SCMS, MOMS, etc). Doesn’t happen on all the computers, which are largely identical, just some, some of the time.

The googling you can do for these seemingly-unrelated, completely obscure errors is epic; there’s something about combination of opaque error messages and time pressure that brings out the tribal-shamanism impulse in even the most soi-disant technically-inclined, and with a vengeance. And I’m sure that closed-source software, wildly inadequate instrumentation and the fact that nobody else in the herd knows what the fuck is going on either doesn’t help. Restart the server! Rejoin the domain! Rebuild the domain completely, and change NICs! Edit registry keys! Burn incense! Turn the AC down five degrees! Swing cats about by their tails! But not black cats, use only white cats, that’s the trick!

Most of my time isn’t spent actually solving problems anymore, it’s spent filtering out the garbage between me and the solution. Warren Ellis once wrote that: “the Singularity is the last trench of the religious impulse in the technocratic community”, but the more problems I have to fix on these black-box machines the more I think that for most people any excuse to get superstitious will do it, technocrat or not. All this technology, and you don’t even have to wait ’til sundown anymore to find out who’s afraid of the dark.

Here’s the trick: read your logs, and read them in order. Build up some sort of mental model where cause leads to effect, make a theory and test the theory and if it’s wrong, roll back your changes, make another theory and test that. When one of them works, that is the one you write down. Don’t clutter up google with the rest!

Science works, bitches; get your pseudoshamanist cargo-cult bullshit off my internet.

The real problem turns out to be a race condition between networking and all the things that rely on it – it can take just a hair longer, in this modern age of peppy computers running crappy software, to heat up that card, autonegotiate your duplexing and be assigned an IP address than it can to do all the other fancy things that rely on it, that in many cases (like “where’s the domain controller?”) just assume that it’s there.

In situations where you need for users to receive software, implement folder redirection, or run new scripts in a single logon, apply a GPO with the setting Always wait for the network at computer startup and logon to the computer. This setting is located under Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\System\Logon in the Group Policy Object Editor. For this setting to take effect, Group Policy must be refreshed or the computer restarted.

So make the change and reboot. And just like that, poof, it’s gone.

Awesome. From a weather warning from Environment Canada:

..Could this be snow-mageddon?..

Environment Canada is generally not prone to exaggeration unless
there is deemed to be a real threat. We evaluate weather information
and prediction models in a measured, scientific manner and couple
that with overall impacts for significant events.

I love it. We’re not prone to exaggeration unless there’s a real threat, but if there is, all bets are off! It’s going to hail meteors! Fire from the skies! Raining pitch, rivers running red with blood, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria! Everybody panic!

“In other words, the feature is missing to remove the temptation to use the feature insecurely.”

That’s Raymond Chen back in 2004, explaining why you can’t use runas in a batch file. “This was a conscious decision. If it were possible to pass the password on the command line, people would start embedding passwords into batch files and logon scripts, which is laughably insecure.”

I bang my head against this all the goddamned time; it’s infuriating, such a patronizing design decision. Thanks for not letting me make that decision, Microsoft! I’m glad you know better!

It’s too bad they don’t ship mail clients with the ability to send email disabled, too, or an OS that won’t connect to the net. That could have saved the world a lot more grief than this.

I’m a recall coordinator. My job is to apply the formula.

There’s a major vulnerability in Internet Explorer making the rounds right now. Their proposed “workarounds” to the problem are more than a little farcical so your best bet, as always, is to stop using it completely; if you haven’t made the switch to Firefox yet there has never been a better time than right now.

Baby Needs Powerups

Everyone remembers the carseat, but how many parents think to get a their kid an extra life? Not many, I’ll wager! I was going to get a fire flower too, but I think that can wait until they’re a little older.

If that’s not responsible parenting, I don’t know what is.