2005.12.16

Iced

01.00.29 - Mark


Iced Buds
Originally uploaded by Mark_W.
While not as amazing as some of the ice storms I saw while I was still living in Iowa, the two ice storms that have hit Northwest North Carolina in the last week have been beautiful in their own right.

Because I haven't been blogging much between final exams, trying to get off blogger, and the fact I've horribly neglected my flickr account I've posted a set of photos I've taken after the two storms.

Enjoy

I love winter.

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2005.12.12

Huh?

14.23.00 - Mark

One of the RIAA vs Consumer appeals came out with a decision against the consumer. In itself its not surprising, since the argument was a pretty poor excuse of canned defences. What's shocking is that she's been fined $750 per song. Which makes me wonder where the hell the judge got that figure. I can buy a the CD it came on for $20, I can get the track off iTunes for $.99, or I could subscribe to some download service and get it and a zillion more for something like $5 a month. None of those cases gets over $3 a track. I can understand a reasonable fine for illegal activity, a 750% increase. That's outrageous.

Makes me glad I'm not supporting the RIAA.

(unrelated side note - most blog posts have been moved over to a database, and after exams finish up this week I'll get back to writing the blog engine)

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2005.12.08

Wow

22.19.00 - Mark

96 year old color photos from Russia

Via Damn Interesting

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Hurrumph

20.00.00 - Mark

I may end up getting an Video iPod soon than I expected, my 20GB grayscale 4G iPod died sometime yesterday afternoon - massive hard drive failure. I've known since last night - between not booting, random error messages, and a very loud, clicking hard drive I knew early on it was the drive. Unfortunately its out of its 1 year warranty, and I know the drive is gone for sure since I was able to mount it long enough to run some disk utilities. Despite a full reset, an attempted repair, and a try at reformatting, its one very screwed hard drive.

At this point I could start shopping for a new drive off ebay, but a new known working drive is easily $150, and I was already outgrowing the 20GB drive. A new 60GB would run me around $370, give me photos, video, and more space.

I'm pissed, tired, and a couple other things, but in the end this just means I'm getting a 5g sooner than expected. I just wish I had moved some of the files I was storing on it over to one of my file servers before it died - most of them are replaceable, some not so much.

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2005.12.07

Semi-happy ending

15.08.00 - Mark

The Mount Airy City Schools have had a problem with bomb threats over the last month or so, receiving 4 bomb threats in 5 weeks (one at the high school, three at the middle school), all after I made a post about what I felt was a real blunder of disaster planning at the near by community college I'm attending and the FBI visit I received a few days later.

Well apparently the public postings paid off. After a couple rounds of echo the message (minus some of my colorful phrases) filtered up to the Superintendent of Mount Airy City Schools, who I've heard instantly caught onto the idea and that there's a good chance the the district will implement some form of distributed evacuation at the schools.

This isn't saying anything about the college, but then again, they haven't proven themselves to be especially receptive to criticism. Apparently they really pissed off the county commissioners last night. I don't know the full story there, but I know it deals with questions the commissioners had about the school's "very positive" reports despite all of the student complaints about the administration and some of its policies.

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2005.12.03

Packing

12.03.00 - Mark

Writing a decent script to move all of my 1350 posts (+ comments!) into a database is nearly a fruitless effort. I couldn't get blogger to output everything in something resembling a useful file (I'm not supprised, I've discussed the issue before), So I'm going though the painful process of copying and pasting all of the entries. I whipped up a couple web forms and tied them to the database to make entry a little easier, but bleh. I've barely finished one month worth of posts (leaving me with ~1300)

Part of it is that I'm homebrewing a blog engine, but even if I was moving to word-press I couldn't use the existing scripts.

At least its fairly mindless, and I can eat my way though my podcast playlists while repeatedly hitting command C Tab Tab V Tab Tab.

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2005.12.01

Plan for Victory

20.16.00 - Mark

It's too easy to make fun of this image.
heil Bush
Image is from reuters via Wonkette (via Kung Fu Monkey because I missed it at Wonkette)

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Blessed are the ignorance, for they shall internet the earth

18.36.00 - Mark

Its amazing how ignorant people are when it comes to security. In a networking class today we had a teacher closed us off from the rest of the network and let us raise hell with hacking tools. Plain l33t hax0r script kiddie junk but a practical introduction to security, and more importantly, how its really hard to know when you're being attacked. So we're running our packet sniffing and password detection tools making one very hostile environment and nearly everyone is silly enough to log into some significant personal account. Several emails, a few personal web spaces, one fool even logged into paypal (which begs its own questions), I'm not sure what was more concerning - logging into priority accounts in a known hostile environment, or the week passwords. Makes me glad I use a lot of heavy passwords (the default brute force settings wouldn't have cracked my passwords).

At least this teacher seems to have the common sense to teach this well, even if it might give a few of the older students nightmares. He certainly seems to know the subject, and it looks like its going to be a smooth lead in to the network security course he's teaching next semester

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2005.11.30

AmigoFish

01.06.00 - Mark

Dave Slusher has released his user-centric podcast/vlog directory AmigoFish, something I was lucky enough to be an alpha tester on. Rate a handful of podcasts, it goes out and compares your tastes to all the other users, then comes back with recommendations based on the ratings of similar people. Basically the same thing podcast networks and community do, except automated and genre independent.

Its been working great for me, all the way back to when it was drop down menus and tables, and I've found a few new podcasts and video blogs because of it. A lot of that was when it was drawing from a limited user pool. I can't wait to see how my recommended list morphs now that its public.

While its good for people like me already consuming podcasts, I suspect it will be most useful for those getting started, and, possibly, for the critics who've been saying that there's no easy way to find podcasts you like.

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2005.11.26

Hmmm...

12.58.00 - Mark

Assuming this hasn't been too skewered though the wiki process, the Netherlands seem to have a sane Drug Policy, as opposed to the money leach the US drug and alcohol policy seems to be.

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2005.11.24

We can rebuild it...

12.02.00 - Mark

Slowly making progress on my little blogger exodus. I've pretty much completed my style sheet and basic page, I've set up a database structure, and I've even got a couple ideas on how to manage the blogspot redirects. That leaves moving all the content to the database then writing the blog engine and redirect script.

I wish I was better at programming.

And a happy thanksgiving or something like that...

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2005.11.22

A little too much to do

12.42.00 - Mark

too many feeds to read

Yeah, I need to trim down on the RSS feeds... even if I that is 4 or 5 days worth of content...

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2005.11.19

Not quite, but almost entirely unbearable

09.17.00 - Mark

The family is on a very fast trip for a memorial service in Chicago this weekend. Drove all day yesterday, and looking to drive all day tomorrow. Stupid rushed me forgot to grab a half decent cassette adapter for my iPod so if I want to listen to my ipod when I'm behind the wheel I need to listen to intermittent sound and static in addition to appeasing everyone else in the car. On my own I could probably bear it, with others I was outnumbered. So commercial radio it was.

Bleh. Half the time I had to listen to it I was thinking about banging my head against the nearest available object and the rest of the time I was thinking that Van Goah might not have been so crazy. I mean I can tolerate NPR (when they aren't begging for money) but commercial radio is just that - commercials, and usually uncreative over produced clips of crap. Even some of the worst podcasts would have been preferable to driving with commercial radio.

On the other hand the local TV stations here are not crap. For corse, the stations in Greater Chicago Land have a decent budget and a pool of highly competent people. Now if only the internet connection at the hotel didn't suck so bad (port blocking == evil)...

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2005.11.17

Had to happen

20.00.00 - Mark

As much as I love how advanced North Carolina is with respects to blogging, podcasting, and video casting (among other technologies). Unfortunately, those advances seem to be lost with my community college. I'll admit its not entirely surprising, we are in the mountains and Winston Salem (30 miles south east of here) seems to the western edge of NC enlightenment.

After three weeks, a movement started in part by an anonymous blog has helped catch the eyes and ears of the college administration and get them to address student concerns. Unfortunately both the local news and school are quick to dismiss the blog. While the local media is slightly more enlightened (they've excerpted this blog and keep tabs on several local bloggers, and have written about blogs, podcasts, and wikis among other things) the school administration isn't as kind. Rather than just dismissing the one student blog, they dismissed all blogs as a "national problem". Had I actually been approved to be there, I would have started ripping into him. His national problem of bloggers taking down corporations, media organizations, politicians is not a "problem" its a good thing.

Bloggers were the first ones to get the real stories out of Hurricane Katrina, and even as traditional media was in there reporting the news, citizen journalists were the ones writing the really moving stories. We're getting better, faster, and more informed looks at people like Harriet Miers. We can hear the real stories out of Iraq and the middle east, or find out the most recent Political squabbles from our own politicians, not just the wildly popular ones like Barack Obama, but even the small western NC representatives are taking time out to publish pieces in area blogs - at least if our politicians are so inclined.

Yes, you can get a disgruntled employee who wants to ruin your corporation, but I can't think of a really clear case where that has happened with blogs. (Someone feel free to prove me wrong) Yes, some companies have sued online publishers for soliciting trade secrets, and yes some have fired employee bloggers, but thats corporate America adapting to a new medium, but with IBM and others trying to get employees to blog I think that selecting a few cases in the minority is a low blow to a legimiant movement.

I'm willing to grant them that there are a lot of anonymous comments on the blog, and that there are probably a lot of people posting multiple times. However, if they bothered to count up the complaints signed with either a real name or contact (9 as of my last count) or handles (another 11 or so). I've heard that in Washington DC, representatives start a file when they receive 5 to 10 complaints. That may be out of 50,000 constituents. 20+ out of everyone who has passed though a rural community college should be lighting bon fires.

Its sad when you consider that they've launched an Internet Technology curriculum, but can't get themselves to pay even a minimal amount of attention to a website. More so when you think about how interconnected our societies are becoming, new and old, urban and rural, especially among the age groups that make up a large portion of their enrollment numbers...

(audio clips hopefully coming soon)

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2005.11.16

Bush's Next Move?

12.46.00 - Mark

bush '08
Bush in 08?

You heard right. 4 MORE years. Sure the law says you can only serve 2 terms. Repeal it! The country needs W in '08. Show your continued support for George W. Bush by wearing the shirt or placing the sticker over (or next to) your W '04 sticker. God Bless America.


I know this is supposed to be a parody, but isn't the 22nd Amendment just about the only part of the Constitution someone hasn't tried to mess with under the Bush administration? Nevermind, someone tried to repeal term limits in 2003.

Bush '08 via Warren Ellis

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2005.11.15

The Low Cost of SoSo films

22.44.00 - Mark

Well, actually went to see Walmart: the high cost of low prices and while it wasn't a complete and horrible waste of an evening, it didn't exactly break even. The movie looks and feels amateurish. For example, I'd swear they were using a stock copy of iMoive and didn't bother making really clean cuts. They also borrowed clips from The Daily Show, which really didn't lend the movie any credibility. Sure it provided a well needed laugh, but nothing new or useful to the argument.

Even without borrowing from Jon Stewart, most of the information was nothing new and the little amount of content they really went out and collected seemed pretty heavily scripted.

Do I agree with the message? Absolutely. I've had friends who have had walmart jobs and were asked to do all sorts of stupid stuff (Hey, employee there's a tornado watch and there are a few landing in the area, can you come in and help us manage customers?) But I didn't get the feeling that this is going to be a serious problem for walmart. It doesn't attract the fencesitters, it doesn't suggest solutions beyond Unionize / keep walmart out, and it doesn't present any new facts. About the only thing it does is attract urban liberals like crazy - and they don't have walmarts to deal with.

Over all if you can get in free and want to kill an evening and a few brain cells, go see it. Otherwise find some more complete summaries or do some research. Once you get outside major population centers it isn't hard to figure out how Walmart is hurting America.

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2005.11.14

Fuck.

13.47.00 - Mark

Fuck.

Thats the same fucking idea I've been working on slowly (stupid, stupid stuipid stupid) over the last few months. Except they've got capital for who knows how many people and regions. I mean like all products there's a downfall, and I think NewsVine's might be in commercial/sponcered/paid content (how unbiased can you be if you're getting VC and brain trust from ABC's and Fox's?) Plus commercial ventures with community tend to be miserable failures. Has anyone successfully launched a community (as opposed to build)

Maybe there's some hope for an independent, but they've got full time developers, a pool of content producers and $5million that I don't.

Fuck.

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Holy Fuck They Make This Hard!!!

12.22.00 - Mark

Well I've moved house, sort of.

This is yet another blow for blogger as a service, since moving from blogger/blogspot to your own servers is a hard, neigh, impossible thing to do elegantly, and for any non-techies looking to try, I'm sorry. They are simply not geared up for letting people like me, or someone really serious about blogging get off of their (impossibly locked down) servers while keeping links and other goodies when moving to own on little corners of the interwebs.

First setting up the FTP account to move to another server while still using blogger (like I was initially planning) is tricky. It took me about a dozen times to set it up, with blogger spitting indecipherable error messages. Nothing wrong on my server's end, nope, all blogger.

Second, after you move off blogspot, they put your name back in the pool. This is fine, except in any sitituation where some people actually link to you and it is, in fact, recurring traffic. OK so a few residual clicks from Macslash, Edcone, or other blogs might not make the biggest difference, but if I can save that traffic, I want to save that traffic. The whole reason I started publishing online was to share information, I can't do that as well if you're scrapping my former domain.

Third, Blogger's proposed solution is this: reregister your blogspot domain. OK, but it still wipes the content that was there, which leads to 404s and other problems when your blog consists of 1350 posts and counting. If I can avoid it I don't want to make that lagging macslasher dig though 2.5 years of my postings to get to the one gem that was linked to in the past. I hate working to find content, and as a geek, I'm a lot more tolerant than most. If I don't need to make a user work, I don't plan to

These are things blogger can easily accommodate for. Just allow us to keep a copy of the structure of our blog on blogspot with a redirect that goes to the post on the new server. You don't need to store everything, just a structure pointing to the same location with a different domain.

Of corse that's just when using different servers.

Its a whole lot harrier when you want to move to another engine. Since I think my elegant solution is going to involve writing my own blog engine I think I'll leave this blog up with a HTTP redirect in the header. Then, I'm hoping, I'll be able to watch the referal addresses and set up another redirect to send it off to the posts new location. at least I hope. I already know its a problem thats going to take some research and experimentation, but I've already decided against the major blog engines. I think part of the spam problem is that all the spam spiders go looking for the same blog footprints. the "I Power Blogger here" or the telltale signs of wordpress. Up until a few weeks ago this blog was spam free, something I largely thank the jury-rigged design for (while it used to be based on an old, old, old blogger template, I've wired on a lot of shit onto it - 99.9% of blogger blogs seem to be based on default templates)

I had already decided to write my own engine, now it just becomes more important in my move, and at least now I have a copy of my blog to start working with. Which leads to my next grievance, why on earth does Blogger's owner Google not get them to move ass on making personal data more accessible. I mean the whole thing with gmail is "it's your data" hell the company's policy is "Don't be Evil", so maybe some one can explain to me why on earth we've got vendor lock-in, barely accessible raw data, and deletion of credibility all in one company that happily claims "Don't be evil"?

It makes my head spin. I used to say I'd be happy to recommend blogger to anyone interested in starting a blog, and maybe that's still true in some small way, but if you're even remotely serious about blogging, run away from blogger and blogspot as fast as you possibly can.

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Hell is a Phone Network

17.03.00 - Mark

I'm traveling this weekend and I would really, really like to have tripping the rift on DVD while I'm on it. Sure I've got some nerdtv and DrunkenBlog's EAA video to watch, but those only go so far.

Unfortunately best buy is a wretched corporation whose idea of a good joke/business model is to get disgruntled customers to to do the work of disgruntled employees. Who needs to outsource to india when you've got plenty of customers pissed off enough to work just to get their products?!?!

I know my item is on "backorder" (a fancy term for "we'll ship it when you'll pay full price for it" or "We're screwing you over by not honoring the price we advertised and accepted billing information for") but oddly every store in the area has a copy. A nice new, shiny, glistening shrinkwrapped copy at its physical location. How do I know this? Well first it says so on the website - right there under local pickup, secondly the minimum wage college drop out I called at the store (who BTW isn't in on this scheme) told me they had a freaking copy in the store. So why then, do you idiots at the phone bank spew bullshit about "sir, there are no copies at the stores in your area." and offer the useless advice of "call the store's inventory department and have them update theier database"?

Bull-fucking-shit!

I am the customer. Notice me giving you money, not taking it. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should I have to call a fucking inventory department at one of YOUR stores! None. Hell I should have to place 4 separate phone calls to you half assed organization.

I might be a devil, but you made the bad deal, at least live up to it.

I think I need to get irate with a phone farm managerial goon at Worst Buy.

Grrrrrrrrrrrr

(after thought, its slightly ironic that I want to pick this up before going to a screening of Walmart, the High Cost of Low Prices)

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2005.11.13

Moving.

19.08.00 - Mark

So long blogspot! Thanks for all the free hosting.

Thats right, after months of threatening, I am finally moving off of blogspot and onto my own paid servers at the domain I have been trying, rather unsuccessfully, to promote, Markw.us. Blogger does not make moving off of blogspot let alone Blogger simple, so for now I will continue using Blogger for updates after the move, but hopefully that will change by the end of the year as well. At the very least I'll make a change over next year when I should be able to write it off as a class assignment. (crosses fingers) Anyways I'm setting up some redirect scripts to get you form blogspot to markw.us, and if I can figure out how, try and get you to the right post (assuming all goes well in the move)

Its a shame that its nearly impossible to move, but its something I've known I'd need to do for a while. So, update your bookmarks/memory/feed (if you aren't using the feedburner feed, which I'll try and move over shortly) and I'll try to make this thing work.

If not expect a miserable and explosive failure peaking as a violent and expletive filled rant in an hour or two.

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