Lost in Space

01.28.06 - Mark

Apparently there's a lot of youth apathy over space exploration. As much as I'd like to think that's false, it's fairly clear that it isn't. I remember watching shuttle launches several times. The first time was NASA's put Senator John Glenn back in space publicity stunt (hey - it worked...) Since then I've watched a couple other launches but in reality it's not that exciting to watch it on TV (I'd jump on the opportunity to watch any space shot). On the other hand I'd be watching NASA TV like crazy on a manned Moon or Mars Mission, just like I watch it when they're landing an interplanetary probe. When something is new or different then people will pay attention, when it's not - why bother?

NASA seems to have forgotten that they've made space travel routine, to the point of common (although expensive) tourism. The lofty position Shuttle commanders and crew once had as great pilots and true explorers has been eroded to little more than glorified truckers, cabbies, and construction workers. They're blue collar workers with college degrees and the guts to sit atop several tons of ignited explosives.

The barrier to entry into space travel is too high for the average person to even care. If it was more exciting than making a round trip to a construction site, people would watch. If it didn't cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to go to space, then more people would do it. Until then, the reality is that not a lot of people are going to care.

Look at NASCAR, which is one of the post popular sports in the USA. While few people are directly involved with the sport, the barrier to entry isn't that great since just about any idiot can drive fast (wikipedia claims that some races have an average speed of 90 MPH, which isn't hard to do on an interstate) The same is true of all sports, if people can realistically do it themselves they will care about it, if not - they won't

Then there's the fact that everyone in my generation knows at least one person who is serving in the military. It's a little hard to take an interest in something that for the last 40 years or so has been a shining example of human ingenuity and cooperation, when the reality of a pointless and violent war - where both sides have ignored the difference between combatants and non-combatants - has been thrust into our faces.

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Free Topo Maps

01.46.38 - Mark

Several months there was an online effort to "free" all of the public domain maps published by the USGS called the "Libre Map Project". They solicited donations to purchase an entire set of USGS maps and then publish them on Archive.org. I tried donating a few dollars but paypal fucked up the transfer, which by the time I was sure was voided, the project goal had been reached. Non-the-less all of the maps have since been uploaded to the internet archive. This is a great resource on its own, but the Libre Map project site has a great search tool that makes downloading the relevant maps insanely easy.

Stuff like this makes me thankful for public domain and Creative commons licensed media. The government would never build a tool similar to what the Libre Map Project has produced.

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05.34.51 - Mark

I don't know why I find myself writing when I'm a bit insomniatic, but I do. Maybe it's because that's when there's the least difference between reality and everything else. Anyways, enjoy.

"Do you dream much?"
"Everyone dreams"
"Not everyone remembers them"
"You are. Isn't that enough"
"I didn't say I was remembering my dreams"
"No, but that's why you brought it up. Tell me about it"
"Dreams are too personal"
"Some. Sexual fantasies and world domnation dreams are. But those aren't the ones you want to talk about"
"This isn't about my id"
"Exactly. So is your ego questioning reality or does your superego was to talk about rebelling against social norms?"
"So whats the other reality?"
"TV shows, mostly. Occassionally a realistic situation"
"Sure you're not just watching too much late night?"
"Yeah. I can't remember sound when I wake up"
"If it was just TV, I'd remember some of the sounds. When I dream it, its like its muted"
"So in your other reality, you're deaf? I'd stick to this world pal."
"I didn't say I didn't hear. I can remember the gist of a dreamt conversation, and remember pieces of the audio enviroment. Just not the sound."
"And you'll remember the sound of this conversation, of this room?"
"I'm not sure - I don't know"
"Maybe you're going deaf in this reality."
"No, I hear fine, but I'm not sure I can consciously remember sound. When I think of a friend I can't remember their voice"
"When I talk to you on the phone, you know it's me"
"That's not remembering, that's recognizing. When I think of another person talking, its all in my voice. Their speach patterns, phrases and vocabulary, but my voice. No other voices in my head"
"Congradulations, you're not schizophrenic"
"So you can remember voices perfectly - in your head, without prompting?"
"A conversation with your grandmother"
"I'm thinking"
"OK, I can't. What's your point."
"You can still remember the point of a conversation with her."
"Yeah. So?"
"We can't remember the sound."
"You think this is a dream?"
"More or less. We can't remember sound here. We can't remember it in what we think are our dreams."
"Do you realize how crazy that sounds?"
"In a way. I just want to know what's real."
"Don't we all?"
"I don't know"
"Neither do I."

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Too many options

03.19.17 - Mark

90% of the time Ubuntu Linux rocks, and is easy to move to and from in the 4 OS enviroment I'm crazy enough to live in (Mac OS X, "Classic" versions of the mac OS, Windows XP, and Ubuntu)

It's that 10% of the time that keeps it (and linux in general) from being a major desktop OS contender. Sometimes its almost needing a computer science degree to get software installed, fighting with various devices to work, or even occassional wonkiness when going about everyday use that you either find a work around or dig though pages of bug reports and command line hacks. What really keeps it out of reach for many users is the thirty-two thousand ways you can do any one task.

A couple weeks ago on Black Friday I picked up a cheap hard drive figuring I'd need it somewhere eventually. I wasn't dissappointed when my linux box shard crying for more storage space a week later. After getting some better IDE cables (the box has physical space management issues) I went and installed the drive yesterday. On a windows box, I could use the drives included software to format the drive. On a Mac, I could just use Disk Utility.

Under Ubuntu I had to use 7 or 8 seperate software tools, consult help documentation on at least 3 of them. Study several online howtos, actually had to follow two of them, and muck around in a handful of system config files. Yes I like having control over my computer, but I don't happen to like spending an hour and a half partitioning, formatting, and mounting hard drives when I should be able to do it in 10 to 15 minutes.

To save others a bit of time This article covers how to wipe the drive and install a filesystem, then this one tells you how to actually get your new drive to mount on startup.

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So long HSU

23.33.30 - Mark

A bit more than 12 hours ago I finished (a rather trivial) exam in my "advanced" web graphics class. Barring bureaucratic screw-ups (I think) I graduated. (Screw-ups being close to the norm - High School University is the home of the three year two year degree) While it is good to be out of there, it was another one of these truly anticlimactic moments. I'm still debating about if I send back a piece of my mind to the administration after the (somewhat expensive) piece of paper shows up "proving" that I know how to build a website.

Don't bother asking what the fuck I'll be doing next. I don't have a clue and I won't be worrying seriously about it until January.

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Son of the ClampBook

03.08.13 - Mark

Remember the Clamp Book? My two year old iBook from hell that has spent the last nine months alternating between being dead, on life support, and comatose? Yeah well its back. In mid August the old HD started crapping out (probably because it was being pinched by the clamp) and eventually got to the point where I was unable to boot it and do anything useful with the system. Late last week I picked up a cheap 20GB laptop drive figuring I could revive the laptop or make a decent little external. Well after two or three take aparts, and several hours cloning a working OS I have this evil little system work again. While mucking about in the thing I tried placing cardboard shims in the case (once again) and seem to have placed them in the right spots - as I'm cautiously typing this post on the white devil - minus red clamp and external keyboard.

There has been some other pleasant geekiness in the last 24 hours, but I'll save that for when I'm on a known stable system. There might not be a clamp on this box anymore, but that doesn't mean I'm free and clear of the bubblegum and bailing wire.

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A half gallon of the red stuff

00.07.08 - Mark

Rather than talking about how hard it can be to donate blood, and trust me, with all the bureaucracy they've wrapped it in its far from an easy and convenient process, I'll just remind you that it is worth it. Especially during the holiday season. A perfect gift for someone you don't know.

In case you're wondering about the title, I donated my 4th pint today.

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Lazy Dog.

00.52.02 - Mark

I swear I've got one of the lazyiest dogs on Earth. Most days I'll catch her sunbathing her way across the living room floor, when she isn't curled up on one of her pillows. She only really moves if she hears anyone stumbling around in the kitchen.

Just now I found her sprawled out on the basement futon watching Van Helsing on TV. I know that my dad probably forgot to turn it off when he went upstairs about half an hour ago, but now that I've turned it off she got off the fouton, laid down on the floor and is now staring at a wall, almost sulking. Maybe I should have let her finish it.

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Welcome to December?

23.22.25 - Mark

While it isn't something I consistently miss about the midwest, like the availability of good pizza, I occasionally miss having more than three seasons. A couple weeks ago I thought winter was finally starting to creep in. Well that was then, this past week the temperature has been hovering around 70 degree fahrenheit. The first of December, I want it to be cold. Every part of my body and my genetic heritage is screaming at me to stay in a warm bed in the morning or take in a little more fat to last me the winter. Instead I'm regretting not wearing shorts or thinking about taking my bike out for a ride. We should have seen snow by now, and I'm still waiting for a decent freeze.

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