2005.06.30

Bushit!

23.13.00 - Mark

Bush is spewing more of his patented, copyrighted, and DMR protected Bushit about the Kyoto Protocol, like claiming it would have wreaked the US economy , just like it has not done in European nations. Not only has Kyoto standards not hurt the EU, some countries have been able to grow and expand their economy (Need I mention the American Peso conversion rates?)

For "A Good Steward of the Land" Bush isn't doing much to protect the Earth...

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I love it

22.58.00 - Mark

Watch. Now.

Le Building

You're not watching it yet.

Bad reader.

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2005.06.29

We like Statutes of Limitations

18.43.00 - Mark

Especially when High Schoolers are being charged as felons for bypassing school filters

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Some People Shouldn't be Teaching

13.37.00 - Mark

As I sit here, in a class, where I really wouldn't want to be if given a choice (and according to state funding practices - shouldn't be anyways)I'm thinking about what it is that is really irratating me about the class (aside from the fact that its late June, a very comfortable 82F, and that I could be being finacially reimbursed for enjoying the outdoors right now)

(break to do mandatory classwork)

I was going to give the teacher the benifit of the doubt and say while not completly ignorant, she was generally unable to teach programming effectivly (She is pretty much incapable of teaching with analogy - which is essential in Science and Technology, if not all subject matters, doubly so with adult education - which is how Surry is geared) and had a leaning towards supression weather than a shared learning enviroment (I can't count the number of times I've basically been told to sit down and shut up when I was helping classmates understand subjects she wasn't able to communicate effectivly), but before I got to write that part I recieved the next assignment in which one component is "how many companies in our area are using MySQL" - I don't care if its a "research paper" - had she done any work she would have realized that thats a nearly impossible question to answer (other than 0-5 anyways). First there are only a few remotly dynamic websites in the area, secondly they're all hosted on diehard M$ hosting platforms (read - we don't need to stinkin' OSS - that means you dolphin boy) or are using PHP (or some other server scripting language) to create static pages (which accounts for all the local bloggers ie Blogger, LiveJournal) The local arts council may be running MySQL, and I'm running MySQL for some of my efforts but thats pretty much it.

Anyways I need to cook up 2 pages of fodder for this BS report. I'm betting there's going to be aother disagreement....

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2005.06.27

Hurry for unreasonable liability!

15.47.00 - Mark

The Supreme Court has handed down a bunch of rulings today and the one that really had me watching as a technologist was the MGM/Grockster case (p2p) They ended up ruling that Grockster couldn't simply stand by "legitimate uses" which has been widely used (and generally wisely accepted) and that because it acknowledged and furthermore advertised its software as a way to pirate intellectual property it needs to accept liability for any any infringement on the networks it accesses. (IANAL, and I'm probably misinterrupting some of this - if you want a potentially better take on this watch the EFF's pages)

What I'm seeing in this case is that because Grockster advertised itself and its software as a way to pirate movies, music and software, it became liable. I can't see this as making a lot of sense. If I use a car, for example, to commit a crime - robbing a bank is good. Arguably the manufacture of the car could potentially be held libel for my actions if that specific car company had intentionally or inadvertently created an advertisement that "encouraged" illegal acts - in this case robbing a bank. So BMW could be held responsible for any number of crimes, while Ford or General Motors might be able to get away (BWM has done a lot of Product placement over the years - ie The Italian Job, The Transporter, they had a number of short films that could be argued as supporting illegal activity)

Like I said, I am not a lawyer, but this really seems to put a lot of stress on developers. I mean it could have been worse, but this isn't great...

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Self-employment can be wonderful

01.05.00 - Mark

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2005.06.26

Freefallin'

02.24.00 - Mark

or, Yet Another Reason the Mac OS Rocks

Freefall is an amazing Mac only application, I mean its fucking amazing and I'm only using a .Mac free version (better than a demo but not a great as the whole deal)

I'll explain more when I'm not so tired and can compose a pretty picture (flickr) enhanced post

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2005.06.24

Gas always Rises

19.54.00 - Mark

Gas is hovering around $60 a barrel. Most people are probably bitching and moaning about it, but I love it. Aside from bringing about the downfall of walmart it also means that we find ourselves that much closer to being able to get Smart Cars (look at one of the european branches - sadly they're not bothering with a lot of US marketing right now)

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2005.06.23

Even geeks can be stupid fcsks...

21.11.00 - Mark

This site has been circulating the geek and gadget web. I wouldn't, but I can't believe that its getting so much coverage. I mean anyone could make this stuff for a few dollars at most (and true geeks could easily do it for free from shit in their personal labs) but this site is selling 57 diodes "intricately woven together by hand" for $300 - actually cost Johnny? $5 + the time it takes to weave (and I'm guessing that even for a $25/hour consultant it isn't going to take 12 hours to create)

Even some of the simpler things - like the cat 5 bracelet wouldn't take an hour to make.

Its a rip off, and for as smart as geeks and hackers are I can't believe that they'd buy into this. Its neat, and I may end up making some - but its not worth the price they're charging. (OTOH I wish I had thought of it first...)

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Root Beer Quandary Phase

01.17.00 - Mark

I've been brewing root beer, as noted here, here, here and of corse here.

I think I'm close to it. I've been chilling some of the latest batch for the last day or so and we cracked it open a little earlier. The result: still yeast flavored (but not as bad as 4 times the yeast....) and there's a mild taste of alcohol (entirely expected) - but overall entirely consumable. I mean this batch is by no means going to replace IBC or other root beers for regular drinking, but it can certainly be used for floats and brown cows (another combination of root beer and ice cream) and it certainly allows more experimentation (like getting quality flavoring and not whatever happens to be stocked at walmart) However before I can try other flavorings I still need to consume 7 liters of this batch before it blows up (I can't fit 7 liters in the fridge since Matt took the minifridge) which means I'm perfectly entitled to borrow titles (and puns) from H2G2...

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2005.06.22

Its time again to FUBAR the Constitution

18.40.00 - Mark

The House passed a bill "Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States authorizing the Congress to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States" (goes to the relevant roll call) and the media is saying that it stands a good chance of passing the Senate where it would then be placed in front of the American Public.

With luck the senate will stop it, however the sponsors might pull their new favorite trick - slip it into something that no one will read and everyone will pass.

What the 236 Yeas are forgetting is that our Flag (Yes I do hold it in high regard, but not above personal freedoms) is only a symbol, its merely a piece of cloth that we say represents personal freedoms. I wonder if they recognize the irony. Do they really value the symbol more than the freedoms? If the actions of congress since 9/11 are any indication, I don't want or need to hear the answer.

Reading though the CNN article, I think its a shame that we have representatives who can't get past 9/11 and use it as a mechanism to inspire patriotism. This is sad:

"Ask the men and women who stood on top of the [World] Trade Center," said Rep. Randy [Duke] Cunningham, R-California. "Ask them and they will tell you: pass this amendment."


First I'm pretty sure they never got around to banning liberals or libertarians from the WTC before 9/10, secondly I don't think that anyone in the WTC when it fell would be concerned about politics - I think they were more concerned with saving lives or saying good bye. If they would tell you to pass this amendment, then they didn't enjoy the freedoms that they were given. I'd like to think that they would want us to keep our freedom. According to the Bush administration, thats what they died for...

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Something Positive

17.11.00 - Mark

First off, if you're one of the 500 some people who have visited me in the last 48 hours we're going to clear something up - that post was the exception. This blog is a hair above the 11 million blogs that are little more than driveling moron someone made the mistake of giving an internet connection, and furthermore a blog to. I'm not a Drunken Blog, 43 Folders or a Jason Kottke I have a few nice posts, but they're not a daily (or even weekly) affair.

Still you're welcome to subscribe to the rss feed to the left or just come back once in a while.

Anyways with that off my chest I can go back to my irregularly scheduled non-sense:

Something Positive has a nice line today: Rattlesnakes have their rattles, Porcupines have quills, and assholes have cellphones or Jesus Fish on their cards.

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2005.06.21

Test Drive a Mac Today!

12.36.00 - Mark

Apple used to have a really sweet program where you could test drive a Mac for a week or so. They really need to reinstate that program.

Here's why.

Anyone can explain why one product is better than another - salesmen have been doing that for centuries, but its another thing when your product can stand up and present itself right out of the box - essentially selling itself. Apples and Macs, especially in their current reincarnation, are some of the few products that seem to be able to sell themselves

Apple doesn't simply place a computer into a box and ship it, Apple gives you a full package from the hardware and cables down though the OS and even down to the software packages from brain dead consumer to pro level audio and video production.

However while this is good for a generic consumer PC, Apple - or Apple retailers should come up with a "switch package" that is a little beyond what Apple generally hands out.

Here's what I'd stuff into a switch package:



Some items are more obvious than others. The Mac should be obvious, but its important that it has all the interfaces as possible. It can be easy for people to have a device and not be sure if they can connect it - cell phones for example - as a growing number of them have bluetooth . Wifi is another essential since it can be easier than connecting a cat5 cable to the Mac. The super drive allows the Mac to show off its one stop video processing ability (as well as permitting the user to get any data off the system before it is deleted)

Regardless of what the user might have available you need to have a mouse, and a 2 button mouse at that. For some reason people can't swallow the single button mouse thing and to put it bluntly there's no reason in hell that you shouldn't have a scroll wheel - period. A keyboard is something you just shouldn't assume (besides most Macs ship with them) Less obvious is the PS/2 adapter and the KVM. Chances are that the Switch package is going to a home with an existing PC, and chances are they won't want to disconnect the PC to test drive the Mac - so we want to make it possible for them to use the PC side by side with the Mac and the PS/2 and KVM switch are going to help enable that.

Include the DVD and CD as blank media. Anything they create you'll want them to pull off, and most people don't have blank DVDs floating around (and many don't keep blank CDs) The USB thumb drive is less obvious, but as PCs and Macs can easily handle USB drives this allows you to make it easy for the user to move files, it also presents an advertising mechinism - USB drives are cheap and easily branded. If you charge a small fee to test drive it can be practical to add in a few dollars worth of media to help make it easier to swallow.

The software is also a little less obvious, but between the consumer and professional packages you cover nearly everything. Games, reference materials, personal organizational tools, audio editing, professional software tools, an office like package, basically anything and everything a computer user really needs - and a collection of software that displays excellence in the developer communities. I would een go as far as saying that you should not preinstall pay for items - such as the pro level creation demos (Final Cut Pro) or Microsoft programs (Office X) however I would make a variety of 30 day demo deals available on an additional CD or DVD.

Of corse to use that software you'll want to make sure they have files to work with - so make sure you load it up with MP3s, AACs (ie the free iTMS songs), movs, jpgs, MP4s, AVIs (especially divx and xvid) Even WMV. Throw every format clip you possibly can because you need to show the user that you can handle everything their PC can. I know that Apple and Jobs dislike piracy as much as the next Hollywood mogul, you many people have DVDs and divx files - you better make sure you can handle them. Yes this stands to make a problem later, but if the user knows what they want to use, you have a better idea of how to help them configure their system when they (hopefully) buy it from a small retailer (ie you)

Similar to being able to handle all the software formats, you also want to make it easy to handle all the peripherals they may have. This means having the connections available for USB, Firewire, and all the storage medias you may have. 8 in 1 readers are dirt cheap, so if you can buy over one person by being able to read their camera's media card its worth it. This goes in with 3rd party drivers as well since you don't know what they may try and plug in. Chances are that they may have a scanner, printer or camera they want to use - so if you can handle it out of the box you're golden. us mac users know that drivers are rarely an issue, and chances are that the OS already knows the device - but again its better to be safe than sorry. I wouldn't even put a strong emphasis here as it is rarely an issue tho' having HP/Canon/Epson printer drivers isn't going to hurt you.

Then there's the auto wipe. To make this work I think you're going to need to be cloning this disk. This is for two main reasons first you're going to want to make sure you're not moving personal files between users. Piracy is bad. You can probably set this up as a Cron job. The other main reason is that it is going to force the user to return the system - thiws pack is going to cost $1000+ you want to keep your investment. Cloning the disk also lets you get away with another trick - reusing those 30 day deals. Which for test drivers is going to somewhat important.

The optional items aren't as important but things like the iSight, iPod, printers, scanners (which don't need to be high end gear) lets the user see that Macs can do everything the PCs can, and in many cases with a lot less hassle. Plus - you can charge a rental fee.

I needed to get some of these ideas out as I'm noticing a lot of people that would be more than fine with a Mac, but can't get past the switching part of Mac vs Windows. Simply clicking around in a store isn't enough - I think people see and think - "oooh pretty - but how is this better than windows?" Even us geeks have that experience. The salesmen is usually annoying, only partially knowledgeable, and spends more time locking systems up then trying to help people blow them up :) I'm a geek and I didn't have a really great idea about living with an iBook when I got mine - yes I had used one, but I learned more about iBooks in the first few minutes of having it in my home than I did with a hour of playing with Macs in a compUSA and Apple Stores. Furthermore in a CompUSA they're only giving you best guesses about what peripherals may or may not work with the Mac - thats something you can easily try at home and discover in a few minutes at a low cost.

Of corse there's some inherent risk that the loaners run, but I think that because this is a local deal, it could help keep local resellers afloat.

Ramblings over (and yes I know this is on damned long post)

A few responses to critics: 4:20 PM Jun 21


Now that I've been linked to on Macslash I've seen some criticisms so here are some responses:

First, Apple can open all the retail stores it wants, but it can't reach into all the potential markets unless it want's to suffer the same fate as Gateway Stores. The closest Apple store to me is at least 3 hours, the nearest CompUSA is 2, and there might be a small Apple dealer at an hour and a half and they're more of a repair shop. Then as some people have hit on, despite Apple's training some of the staffers aren't the most computer savvy. What Mac geek hasn't stepped in (or at least watched) while a Mac salesmen or a "genius" choked on a question?

While I don't really remember the office Apple Test drive I am familiar with it. The main difference I see is that back then you had far more Apple dealers (from the IIe days) and much fewer Macs (since they had just launched) Between the near fall of Apple in the mid 90s and Apple's own retail push now you have a few handfuls of Apple dealers who have managed to survive, and those stores are always looking for something they can offer that Apple can't. A test drive kit like the one I described probably falls into that category. I just can't see Apple, or any other major computer company for that matter, trying this.

The other shortcoming of Apple's campaign was that you only had it overnight. Giving it to a user, who is hopefully going to put it in use side by side with their older PC, and letting them play with it for a week is going to do a lot towards acclimating them to the Mac. OS upgrades aside you can use the Mac, or any other OS for that matter, for months and still pick up new tricks. While shortcut command have (and probably always will) be a problem when moving between Macs and PCs, however, I'd be willing to say that most users don't use short cuts.

Test driving works. I've handed out a few old Macs to friends and nearly all of them switched over at some point - and all of those that have said that test driving was a major reason for their switching.

The problem of course is getting Mac dealers to try it.

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2005.06.20

Walmart vs Target

18.11.00 - Mark

I'll save you the cutesy pun filled title, but MSNBC has an interesting article on how Walmart is planning on pushing Target into Bankruptcy Court.

Personally I don't see it happening.

The MSNBC article suggests that Walmarts main tactic is low costs (which Target can marginalize on many items) but in its war on Target would be bringing in "cheap chic" which in all honest Walmart just can't do.

In my mind there are two reasons.

First (which the article hits on) is that walmart is junky. I mean even the "high end" walmarts look like a goodwill that is scoring new in box items rather than 2nd hand shit. The local walmart is starting to stock some "chic" items but they still look like shit when crammed in between the rest of the junk. Walmart dumps $5.50 DVDs into bins, Targets find a place to put them on shelves.

Secondly walking though walmart feels like walking though a maximum security prision. How many dozen camera domes do walmarts have or really need. It seems like there are one or two for each isle. Then there are the electronic locks on everything. I was buying some spices the other day and the clerk was waving them over the demagnetizer. Its mildly annoying.

Anyways, with luck this will be yet another death knoll for Walmart.

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I want to puke

17.18.00 - Mark

Watching 24 and using it as a jumping off point for the torture debate is one thing. Its fiction and clearly so.

However it's concerning me that there is a growing faction of Americans who aren't simply ignorant of (which is at least partially forgivable) or willing to forgive torture, but actually want this nation to activly practice torture.

Aren't we supposed to be better than our enemy? Hold ourselves to a higher standard? Prove that we aren't the bad guys?

How exactly does torture accomplish this? And if, somehow, torture permits this nation to protect itself, at what greater cost. Germany has been apologizing or trying to forget its blunders in the 30s and 40s for decades. Russia has been struggling with its problems from a few decades. Even our own nation has had to apologize yearly for dropping 2 atomic bombs and terrorizing the public for Communist witch hunts in the 50s.

So where will the path of torture lead us in 10, 20 or 50 years? We've spent the better part of the last century trying to unite the world - are we, or should we - throw those surprisingly small steps for "national security"? If the terrorist threat is as great as they make it out to be why are we the only ones willing to flush our prestige out the window? We're not the only nation to have fallen victim to terrorists in the last 5 years, so why are we the only ones willing to sacrifice everything to protect ourselves?

Something to ponder.

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2005.06.19

Whose Dumber

12.30.00 - Mark

Homeland Insecurity vs 14 year old kid?

Remember - flying is the easy part, its the landing that gets you....

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What the fuck - "Vital Test"?

15.42.00 - Mark

Congress, including the goon that renamed french (food item) to freedom (food item), have been pushing Bush to develop a pull out plan that would have us out of the middle east within a 15 months. Unsurprisingly, Bush is refusing citing that the military activity in the Middle east isn't vital to the protection of the states (which would be the only semi-valid reason he could possibly spout), but that its a "vital test" of American security?

How exactly is a SNAFUed war a "vital test" of American security? Are we practicing shooting and torturing civilians because we can't do that at home? Maybe its dropping bombs on schools and hospitals? Or could it be that we're needlessly putting soldiers in harms' way to see how well we can duck and cover our asses while pissing off a swarm of well armed bess?

I'm sorry but if the only reason we're staying in the middle east is because its a "vital test" I'd say test failed.

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2005.06.18

I've done this...

23.57.00 - Mark



There's more than one reason I don't wear suits and ties

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Cherries, Honey, and Ham

23.01.00 - Mark

I'm not a big fan of traditional breakfasts but thats too strange a combination even for me (tho' you might be able to order it at an IHOP)

Good thing I'm not entirely talking about food.



Today has been a long, eventful and extremely enjoyable day. It started about 9 - 9:30 when the family somehow woke up (in this house if everyone is up by 11am its a fcsking miracle or natural disaster) because we had expected to run to Winston and visit the missing one (tis' a lot quieter without Matt ) but we also wanted to pick some cherries at Levering Orchard. We went last year with the intention of getting a pound or two of cherries, and ended up with closer to 10 - however 10 pounds of sweet cherries fresh from the tree freeze very well and we've been eating them though out the year. So this time we found a better time of the season and managed to get 20 so pounds of both sweet and tart cherries. Its really a neat experiance. Levering Orchard is positioned on the side of a mountain opening up to a grand valley with more of the Blue Ridge in the background. This alone would be worth the trip but its even more beautiful when viewed though the top few branches of a cherry tree - while munching on a few ripe sweet cherries (I offer this as definitive proof that I'm out of touch with my - pimp yer' ride and crank the rap music generation)

One of our neighbors keeps bees as a hobby - and despite being neighbors for close to 2 years now we've never seen the honey being harvested. As we were coming home we noticed him pulling on his bee keeping gear so my Dad and I sort of wandered over there to watch. We ended up getting a decent lesson about making honey as well as a really good taste of it right out of the boxes. I won't even bother trying to explain how good it tastes to just suck the honey right out of the combs. I can understand how kids in the 1800's could do without candy as we know it - pure fresh honey beats it any day (at least the powered sugary stuff) Full of flavor. What really amazed me tho is that despite the fact that you're agitating a few thousand bees they're really passive - they're just confused as hell . I mean they do swarm (you can kinda see it in the photo) and I heard more than a few buzzing around me - but they're not pissed off. Totally unlike what usually happens when you walk your way into a big swarm of bees. Did I mention the honey?

So we watched the bees and snacked on honey for an hour to so - I guess we broke off around 2pm. For about a week I had a standing invitation to come and see some Ham Radio stuff (today was Kids Day or something like that -a sort of youth introduction that doubles as practice for operators since the week after is Field Day where they get into the heavy duty stuff) While I haven't gotten much into Ham radio I know that Ham operators are proto (and modern) hackers. People who take technology and bend it to their own needs (or outright invert it) and the guy who invited me certainly falls into that arena. Andy does a lot of AV work for High School University but he got there though playing with gadgets as best as I can tell. From what I've heard he's got a basement (and garage, and a van, and a trailer, and an office) that would put my meager lab to shame. Actually his van alone puts my lab to shame, as its just as cluttered, has nearly as many radio sets as I do computers, as many if not more tools and unlike my lab he can drive his rig anywhere he wants to.

So I got plunged into ham stuff (drowned in jargon and struggled for a grasp on the subject matter - tho' some knowlege of radio and wifi helped) but I enjoyed it as we were able to have really good conversations about technology and how most people seem to view it (magic). Anyways lots of fun, and I'll probably go out again. I don't know if I'll go for a license - but there are a lot of home-brewers involved with ham (not to mention surplus hardware). I suppose I'll see closer to September (when there's a big hamfest in NC)

Signing off for now...

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2005.06.17

Beer of Roots part the third

21.08.00 - Mark

I think (dangerous words) I've got the root beer proportioned correctly. About 6 or 7 liters of the stuff - despite the nyeast flavor of the first failed batch I think this might turn out to be some decent soda - we'll see. If its correct I'll know how bad it is Tuesday or Wednesday

In the mean time here's a run down of my cost:

Yeast packets - 3 for $1 (6 3/4 teaspoons) breaks down to $.03 for 2 liters
Sugar 5lbs $1.25 (maybe 10 cups) breaks down to $.12 for 2 liters
Water 1 gallon Bottled $1.20 (enough to make 4 liters of soda) breaks down to $.60 for 2 liters
Bottle of Root Beer Extract $2.50 (enough for about 8 liters I think) $.65 for 2 liters

total for 2 liters $1.40

So its going to run a little more than a regular 2 liters of brand name root beer (which usually run for $1-$1.25) but less than a decent tasting root beer in glass bottles ($2.50 and up)

However this opens up a world of other home-brew sodas - sugar, yeast, water, and flavoring + DIY soda.

Sure you could go out and buy carbonated water, but by the time you've infused it with flavors its going to be fizzled out. Besides this is fun science - you know - the type of science they forgot to teach you in middle school...

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Speaking of Sci Fi

16.36.00 - Mark

The BBC has commissioned a third season of Doctor Who (of the current run - there are 30 some seasons of Doctor Who)

Unfortunately there's still no word on an American Distributer - other than Bittorrent at least...

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Root Beer Part Duex

14.02.00 - Mark

Batch One of the Root Beer has been brewed, cooled and sampled and the verdict - mmmmm Beer.

No I didn't forget the root, the concoction (1.25 cups sugar, 1.5 tablespoons extract, 1 teaspoon yeast and about 2 liters of water) Tastes more like a beer than root beer with a noticeable yeast flavor and what I'll swear is a distinct taste of alcohol. And it probably is a strong bit of alcohol.

Of corse its entirely my fault - I added too much yeast - like 4 times too much, which explains why it took 1/4 the time to brew (1 day not 4) and why there seems to be a stronger alcohol content (more yeast eating more sugar) and why the thing tastes like yeast.

I feel dumb.

Anyways I'm going to see how I can save batch two (batch one had its yeast killed when chilled)

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2005.06.16

Thats odd...

12.26.00 - Mark

Despite earlier posts, congress is, somehow, doing some not stupid things.

Unfortunately its taken them 3 years to get around to over throwing Bush's reactionist decisions about stem cells and far to long to make libraries safe from the FBI's goon squad - but at least they're doing something (too) stupid - and thats what matters right?

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Go Stem Cells

22.26.00 - Mark

For those who say that that stem cell research hasn't produced any medical benefits - they are probably scientifically ignorant. Beyond that important fact they're probably confusing American research for the rest of the world, because they're making progress

At least congress is trying to correct Bush's mistake on this one...

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Greatest Americans?

21.14.00 - Mark

Discover Channel is American Idling history - and its pretty sickning. I keep making the mistake of taking a look at it when its on.

Bill Gates? Elvis Presley? Oprah Winfrey? Billy Graham? George W. Bush? What the Fuck?!?! Hell Enistein is on the fucking list and (arguably) he isn't American

Are these really the greatest people our society has produced? OK so a few of them, might- might- be the greatest Americans but really its the every man that are the greatest. Some of these people - like Bush - are just someone that can take credit for greatness. He isn't great ( Bush is bringing about the downfall of civilization...) but people are willing to give him credit for "leading" the country though events such as 9/11 and the Second Gulf War (which he started because he's an impatient bastard proving to Daddy that he's worthy)

Yes they contributed to society (most of them anyways) but are people so shallow and ignorant that we consider Elvis Presley, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill Gates among our "Greatest Americans"?

I hope not, but I seem to be wrong.

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Since I Found Serenity...

01.08.00 - Mark

SciFi Picked up Firefly!!!!!

5 weeks tho... I guess I'll survive, I've been waiting for Tripping the Rift to start up again for longer than that (and thats closer to a 6 week wait)

At least I only need to wait a couple more days to see new Stargates (SG-1 and Atlantis) and Battlestar Galatacas. My SciFi craving will be somewhat satisfied. Edit: Had I been somewhat more awake and somewhat less intoxicated with naturally produced opioids when I was browsing Scifi for Firefly Listings I wouldn't have confused July 15th with June 17th. D'oh

This news makes it almost easy to forget about Star Wars and Star Trek...

Firefly on SciFi! WhooHooo!!!!! With a movie, syndication, and still strong DVD sales Maybe we can see it uncanceled (a la Family Guy ) :)

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2005.06.15

I for one welcome our new drug dispensing robot overlords

19.48.00 - Mark

The post title says it all

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Pester Your Politician Time Again

19.30.00 - Mark

This is ridiculous

They want to outlaw the offensive, but are willing to cut back on quality at the same time.

Sign the petition

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Dear Right to Live Even If Your Dead Lunatics

16.51.00 - Mark

Care to eat your words?

Terri Schiavo Autopsy results - Brain Dead with no hope of recovery no matter what crack pot "therapies" would have been administered.

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2005.06.14

Root Beer

21.19.00 - Mark

I like root beer, and it annoys me to no end that its impossible to get great root beer in the South. Really its probably one of my few lingering complaints about the South. But I may have a solution!

Brew your own root beer. :)

This is why I'm starting to miss Matt (who has been out of communication at Governor's School) if he was here it would be easy to find an excuse to run out to walmart and collect some extract, pure cane sugar, quality water, a funnel, and possibly some fresh yeast. He's not so ether some crisis may crop up (it might) and I'll get it tonight or it will wait until tomorrow as I return from class.

Of course it looks like its dependent on the quality of the extract for flavor (cane sugar and pure water help) and I question how good the stuff at walmart is going to be. If it works tho' I may start seeking out better extracts and syrups.

But mmm, simply looking at that page is making my mouth water (quite literally, not figuratively)

I think I'm off to instigate a minor crisis....

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Futurama Post - in Double Vision (where drunk)

20.53.00 - Mark

I know that it seems like I'm posting a lot of things from flickr just because I just regisratered there - but I swear that that isn't the case (OK, so it makes it a little easier - but I'm not doing it just for the sake of doing it - I honestly think this is neat)

Now that I've got the disclaimer over with, I present someone's Futurama logo screen gag set.

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Justice was served

17.02.00 - Mark

For some completely inexplicable reason people are shocked that Michael Jackson was found not guilty on all counts. To be honest I think that after all the press thats the only verdict that that jury could find and still be able to sleep with themselves at night.

Is it the correct judgment? I'm not saying. First, despite all attempts by mass media I'm happily ignorant of the details of the proceedings. The people paying attention to it are sick - the people pulling it off are mentally deranged and should be fined for obstruction of justice. If we're willing to do it if they curse why not when it is really going to fuck someone's life up? Secondly, even if I was following the media coverage - like every other moron in the country - I'd still be ignorant. Reading the transcripts doesn't do anything. Its like saying "shit" if I type "shit" in a transcript you don't know if the meaning is along the lines of "shit, thats cool" "shit, we're screwed" or "shit - look at that fecal matter". Third, I like all but the 12 jurors assigned to the case, have absolutely no say in the matter what so fucking ever.

So why are people bothering passing judgment before trial? This is America, where is "Innocent until proven guilty"? In the sacrificing of our freedoms did we give up that tenant of our culture as well? I'm a strong supporter of free speech and press but not at the expense of another man's freedom. More importantly why are people so blown away when their preconceived mass-media produced judgments aren't shared by those few charged with deciding another mans fate?

Its a ridiculous and sad statement about our culture.

I'm glad that he was found innocent - its good to know that there are at least 12 people in this country that can reach a rational decision when taking in a larger view. Had they found him guilty it would have only led to a succession of appeals that would have simply overturned the decision - and all the while would have been pelted with more mass ejections of public ignorance surrounding our courts and justice systems Thank you to the jackson jurors, millions of people may hate you, but remember that its possible and probable that millions of people can be wrong.

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Jesus Crispies at the Strut

13.00.55 - Mark


Jesus Crispies at the Strut
Originally uploaded by Cherie Priest.
I am so screwed - found at warrenellis.com

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2005.06.13

Making

18.47.00 - Mark

Managed to get my hands on MAKE Issue 2 (and will order Make 01 soon) and I love it. I used to have this great passion for making hardware and gadgets, then I got side tracked. Now I'm getting back into it, mainly with small projects. I was working on tetris shelfs a while ago, and they kinda work. My measurements wern't the best so they're kinda lopsided. Today on the way how I picked up about $3 worth of PVC pipes and fittings to make a marshmello gun. (I'll post photos or links to it later)

I feel good about getting back to making. There's a get sense of productivity that its revitalized me with. I don't know how I got away from making in the first place...

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2005.06.10

Heh...

12.25.00 - Mark

The only thing we have to fear.. is fear itself. - FDR

Nearly everyone can hear that famous, and timeless FDR soundbyte in their heads. It just came though one of my email lists in relation to something completely different, but it brought about a striking irony for me.

Its true that we have nothing to fear but fear itself, as we were so eloquently told by our government nearly 65 years ago - but thats far from the message we're receiving from our government today - what do we have to fear now? Anthrax, Biological attacks, Terrorists, Yellow Alerts, Red Alerts, Orange Alerts, Nuclear Weapons, Iraqis who won't sell us oil, liberals, atheists, Muslims, Communists, Cuba, Afghanistan, and the list goes on....

So what happened in 65 years that caused our government to go from telling us "Don't be afraid", "live your lives", "we'll tell you what you can do", even 40 years ago we were being told we can help our government - that as a people united we can shoot for the moon and get to it, now we're being held in a perpetual state of fear - terrorized not only by "terrorists", a completely unseen enemy, but also by the government - made up of fellow citizens - that we have, for over 200 years, entrusted our safety - domestic and global.

They've betrayed that trust, its a shame how our great nation has slipped into mediocrity under our own noses

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2005.06.08

I Like Gum

13.51.00 - Mark

It's keeping me from chewing my lower lip off.

This week's Wednesday Rant Coming Soon.

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2005.06.07

Cell Phone

03.31.00 - Mark

Let me start out by saying that Tracfone is an evil alliance. Its the Microsoft of the cellular telecommunication industry.

Bad Products, on low-end hardware, with horrible usability. If you find your self needing a cell phone DO NOT GET A TRACFONE

That said Matt's need for a good cell phone by the end of the week finally prompted the family to get decent service which in this area seems to be far and away Cingular/ATT. So yesterday we received two Motorola v551 camera phones (with bluetooth :) )

Already I love it. While it charged up I was browsing the features and working out personal settings. So while it isn't as elegant as the UI on an iPod it is far from hyper-advanced wow you really do need to RTFM technology. I (and Matt) was able to get it started off taking photos, video, audio notes, and similar items. Even mating the phone to the bluetooth module in my iBook wasn't complicated - really the hard part was finding the right tools on my iBook. So First, second and possibly third impressions are all very good - so far the only peeve I have with it is the chording keying system used by every cell phone (Give me morse code? Don't know if I'm going that far but I don't get how anyone can stand to rack up hundreds of dollars in SMS charges each month).

With the arrival of the phone I also finally gave in and signed up for Flickr I'm not sure how I want to implement it with the rest of my web services collection (which at last count was .mac, blogspot, dreamhost, feedburner, gmail, adsense, sitemeter, my own at home web server, what ever I'm forgetting at the moment and now flickr) but I'm pretty resolved to not racking up significant bills from sending photos to flickr directly - I've got bluetooth I'm going to use it.

I see weird shit - I'll take photos - and with luck I'll get back to my homespur CMS/blogging software and I'll have an elegant solution to incorporating flickr (which is to say I'll probably follow in Andyi's footsteps and leave a flickr bar off to the side.)

Anyways I need to catch some winks I just wanted to post this first...

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2005.06.06

Try to take over the world...

12.07.00 - Mark

I usually don't agree with John Dvorak, but I think he's dead on about this Pinky and the Brain / Bush and Condoleezza Rice side by side.

One is a (moronic) genius, the others insane, and both sets are trying to take over the world with bad plans and evil schemes...

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Windows - Becase anything else is too secure

10.59.00 - Mark

I know the elections are long since over, but I recently ran across a list of '04 presidential candidates and the server software combinations their campaign sites used. Somewhat unsurprisingly Only three used Microsoft IIS (read rancid piece of decaying web server bloatware that barely works because it was cobbled together by Microsoft in order to quell some superior product), two of them on Windows - one of which was Bushes (Edwards used it as well - but ran it on a somewhat less crappy novell server)

What makes this particularly tasty is that during one of the debates las September Bush's site crashed leaving a "service unavailable" message for anyone bored or stupid enough to visit. I blogged it back then for a different reason, but hey - this lets me throw a punch at Microsoft and Bush at the same time.

What fun!

now for not fun (murmurs) damned class

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Hell has frozen over

17.29.00 - Mark

Wow. All the rumors flying around the last week or two have turned out to be true. (not I haven't read a lot on this so this is all my knowlege - my current connection is too slugish to try and do any fact checking or deeper research)

Apple is switching to Intel

Part of me is shocked and amazed, part of me wants to beat my head against a wall, part of me is saying cool (hesitantly)

The first part knows that this isn't anything new. Apple has had in house ports to the x86 architecture almost since the beginning continuing up to the not so secret announcement today. Old hand Mac geeks are aware that Apple cam pretty close to cross platform compatibility in the clone era, almost but not quite getting to the point where they released a Mac with all the fun legacy PC ports - some of the cloners made use of this some things like StarMax systems carry PS/2 ports. The uber quirky Beige G3s carry a PC style interface for floppy drives, however all that was quickly scrapped with the second coming of Jobs and the birth of the iMacs and the subsequent move to USB/Firewire/Airport/DVI video and all those tasty modern interfaces. There are other things like Pink (which was a x86 version of OS 7) and the open doc systems which were supposed to help migrate between Macs and PCs.

Part of me (the not so rabid generically PC bashing part) wants to put my head though a wall because, as I remember it, Intel isn't exactly the hottest chip set out there. Like really not hot - along the lines of freescale (motorola chip maker) hot . That would be frigid. Most serious geeks move towards AMD (64 bit), possibly VIA (micro-itx motherboards modders love - uberlow power and decent speed) or IBM risc chips (whats in high end servers an every Mac currently on the market)

Intel is sort of the old slow dog that, unlike freescale and IBM kinda sorta keeps up with Gordon Moore's observation of double the speed, half the cost, every 18 months to 2 years. I mean if Apple really wants to get my attention as a power house they need to move to cell technology.

However there's certainly a degree of "cool" lingering in my mind. With xbox 360 and the PS3 both using processors near or at the level of current G5s Apple really needs to do something to stay ahead of the power curve (which is a statement thats been true for a decade+) So we'll see where we're at in a few months. As I haven't really delved into OS programming I'm not really affected by the announced change - as least not seriously.

My common screen name is now seriously antiquated, as opposed to significantly deprecated.

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2005.06.05

People are strange

12.49.00 - Mark

This title unquestionably goes under the "Astute post title" nominations, but there are serious questions behind it. Why on earth do people buy into most (all?) of the things they do?

I semi-recently mentioned a book Everything bad is good for you that challenges the demented perceptions of reality media - and society - have imposed on pretty much every one of the 6 billion plus bipedal carbon based monkey descended organisms known as humans on this blue marble. (I sound like I've read it don't I?)

I mean where exactly did the anything less than 8 hours of sleep thing get started? Who decided it? I know I, and a lot of other people function on less. I vaguely remember there was a controlled experiment where someone went several months working on a series of 30 minute naps each day. There was a cool PBS documentary on it (I don't remember the final results but I'm mostly sure the subject didn't kill all the experimenters).

Speaking of sleep when did we decided that you're awake during the day go the fuck to sleep at night? I'm having a hard time with that one since I'm finding myself much more effective between 11pm and 8am than I am during other shifts. Of corse thats a floating target since I've all but entirely adopted a 30 to 34 hour clock (my lone bastard summer class forces some degree of conformity)

Why do people believe so thoroughly in recycling (waste of time, money, energy, and space among other things) the "War on Drugs" in a supposedly free country (free to follow orders?) or fear one brand of religious lunatic to the point of near genocide and embraces another? It isn't simple ignorance - when presented the facts they continue to hold these ideas near and dear.

Yes its weird facing it down after you have the facts, but its not impossible. Its usually not even a step backwards or forwards - usually the change needed is a simple lateral. Recycling for example - the 3rs were stamped into us pretty early, but once you accept that recycling is a waste of time (sorting) money (all but metal recycling posts a financial net loss) and energy (how many tons of materials do you need to move around / reprocess - perpetual motion is impossible) it doesn't take much to take a step to its left or right to reduce and reuse - which have a much higher value than recycling.

Who knows - this is probably one of those questions that wins problem solvers big fancy awards like Nobel Peace Prizes and MacArthur Fellowships. Guess welcome none the less

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2005.06.03

Dilbert Nails it

07.53.00 - Mark

Todays comic post:

Zits has been capturing my attitude
Foxtrot my grilling
Dilbert just nailed my cursed summer class, at least if it were a corporation that actually needed to accomplish anything:



It's hard to code CMS software.

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2005.06.01

Grills of Mass Destruction

12.39.00 - Mark

I love foxtrot, this one made me break out in a really good solid fit of laughter (out of recognition)

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Unnessicary hoops (rant warning)

16.07.00 - Mark

I think I'm going to be lucky if I haven't chewed though my lower lip come 4th of July.

This class is really long in tooth already.

First its mind numbing (to me) basic HTML hand coding I was doing years ago. Second excessive exploration of HTML (among the class) is somewhat discouraged (I ignored this) and it seems like the teacher is pressing conformity over creativity.

Doesn't help that it seems like she uses the English Language as a blunt object as opposed to a precision tool (which I can be guilty of - but not like this)

One thing, that for me is a major blow to coding, is that I needed to submit a sketch of the site before I started. You have to understand that I don't work that way. When I code I may have a very vague, very hazy idea of where I want to go, but I do most of my coding and planning on the fly once I have source materials. Its fun and generally looks better as I know how elements react with one another rather than trying to fit squares into holes for circles. I mean I can sort of do it with photoshop if I have all the files avalible, but in terms of sketching, in advance, with no files (insert nervous murmur). Sorry

I'm the same way with app and script programming. I plan it in the comments, and I usually develop the output formatting as I go. Its how I programmed all of my scripts in last semester's programming class, as well as how I did the binary clock script a while back.

Now (and this one is going to cause lots of lip gnawing) is she doesn't want me to use my computer (my iBook)? I wasn't really given a legitimate reason:

I want everyone using the same program?
Stay at the same level?
Keep the files on the network[which I'm doing]?

We're all outputting .txt files with fancy extensions in the name and pretty angle brackets inside! What does it matter if I'm using my app or some half baked windows bloat-ware? Its not like I can fight it outright, unfortunately, she's the one issuing the grades. But my tools are much faster, more elegant, and far easier to use than the ones she's prescribing. While I'll conceed that her app of choice is better than notepad and wordpad - whatever the windows simple text editors are called - (however thats not giving it much), its simply nowhere near the quality of my (free) tools. I suppose they do need to justify the technology fee and ordering large numbers of crap-tacular software

There's a whole slew of valid complaints I could throw out and none of them would gain me any ground. Its not like this is an all out Mac vs Windows thing (I'm not trying to make it one) in this case its all about usability. I find my tools far and away superior to those "they" are making me use. I mean I hate designing with dreamweaver - but for site maintenance I don't mind using it. I like using the right tool for the job - its why I love my Swiss Army Knife and why I love my iBook - 9 times out of 10 they can do the jobs I need them to. The other time - I go hunting.

Usability aside- I'm somewhat paranoid about using school computers. Aside from the fact that they're windows boxen and can (probably are) infected with assorted viruses and other malware - they also have remote viewing software (which drives me nuts - I can't stand it when people shoulder surf me when I know they're there. I dislike the big brother vis-screen deal even more).

At least in past classes I've been lucky enough to have teachers that 1) understood that I knew what the hell I was doing, in some cases more so than they did 2) understood I probably didn't need to be there and 3) used this knowledge to improve the class. Or at least leave me alone to do it my way. I'd settle for her leaving me to using my tools.

(rant over - for now)

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