The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

This day just won't end

| September 30, 2003

My day is just dragging. I've gotten so much done, and (of course) I'm going to keep working until 5, but I feel like I've done a day's work in half a day (which is good; I don't feel so far behind).

So, tonight it looks like the Shadowrun game is going to start up finally. People have been ill, so that has been gating it, but it looks like everyone is healthy again and we'll be able to start.

An idea has been percolating in my head – the proliferation of cheap Mini-ITX boards means the ability to breathe life back into cool cases, like the SGI Indy or really any other cool case that is worth saving, but the hardware is somewhat.. errr.. venerable. The folks at (often slashdotted, so you may not be able to get there) have lots of examples of cool cases, including ones made from old Ataris, Nintendos, etc.

Back to work, I suppose.

ramble on

| September 28, 2003

Sort of a screwed up day. I wanted nothing more than to putter around the house, but the new 320GB SDLT drive for the server came in on Friday, so Liz had to put it in the server today (Sunday). I figured we'd go out to breakfast, then go to work and do it, and then Liz wanted to go to WalMart to try and swap her phone at the Cingular booth.

Well, the restaurant was packed, so we just went to work first.

I pulled the cover off the box to see if the drive rails were in there (there are slots for them). They weren't so I went down to look for them. I come back upstairs and she starts to yell at me for taking the side off the case – she touched the box and it turned off. I flipped out. If you can't pull the side off a running computer, you need a better designed computer (I strongly recommended a larger case, but was overruled). Then it wouldn't turn back on, until we unplugged it and left it off for ten minutes; I think she thought we broke something. I just think that the power supply sucks. (Again, NOT what I spec-ed – I wanted one that costs twice as much and can handle higher temperatures while maintaining it's power delivery characteristics. But, this was approved by the board manufacturer, and I couldn't find technical reason to dispute their selection, so we let it go. Meanwhile, the server has shut off in the middle of the night once before, and now when we touched it. It seems to be temperature related.)

So, anyway, I flip out, apologize, all good.

Then, we go out to breakfast, and get detoured because of the fucking fireman's parade. I complain that I hate these things, and Liz tells me I had a sad childhood because I didn't learn to appreciate stuff like this. Like what? A bunch of fireman who'd rather be at home having a beer waving on noisy trucks as we all sit in the rain and wave back?

So, mild annoyance. But, we park the car, then walk over to the restaurant only to find out that it's closed.

Walk back. Go to WalMart. Now, I'm pissed because I just wanted to stay home, and she's pissed because she didn't ask me to come, I volunteered. The thing is, if the day had gone well, I wouldn't be pissed about having to go out (okay, maybe a little, because I feel like I've been going nonstop for about a month, because I spend all my “time off” running errands. So, we are basically annoyed at each other the whole time.

Then we get to WalMart, only to find that the Cingular booth is empty. Fitting end to a day, eh?

But, Liz and I made up. We both said some hurtful things, but in the end we made up and called it even.

Anyway, I was back by 3 and ended up being able to do a little relaxing – laundry, computer maintenance (new SSH, sync-ed my homedirs).

Armageddon was on today, and it got me thinking how little a lot of this shit, how all of the above, just doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. I suppose that when all is said and done, and it comes to the end of the day, what matters is the life you've led, your honor, the people you've loved, and the people you've called friends. All the other shit, the fights over stupid things, they just don't matter much, do they?

In the news: Remember the Reliance on MS being a threat to National Security that I was talking about here? Well, he was fired because The values an opinions of the report are not in line with his company's views.

Groklaw has a great article on SCO's business plan. It's an interesting show of how marketing goes, and how investors should know a bit about what they're getting in to.

Weekend is getting better

| September 27, 2003

I just replaced my 19″ KDS CRT monitor with a 19″ NEC LCD monitor.

The story:

I'm in Staples with Liz. It's right next to the supermarket, and I needed computer paper, so we stopped in. I see it, from across the store. $529 on clearance – $30 les than the 18″ NEC. $300 less than the 19″ Sony. I tell the nearest salesman that I'll take it. He says that they're out of stock. I said, “It's clearance, can I take the floor model at a discount?” He says he'd have to ask the manager. The manager comes over, and says “Yes, he can have it. The discount is standard 10%”. Now, I would have been happy with that – $480? Sure! But the manager purses his lips, looks at it, and then looks at me, and says “How about $450?” I said “Sold”, and the salesman took it up to the register for me. As the register girl was ringing me out, she hands me a Rebate Reciept, and a form for a $150 rebate!. Total cost, with tax – $480. After rebate: $330.

Oh, did I mention it is BOTH VGA and DVI inputs? Switches between them. So, I can use the DVI out from my Linux box, and the VGA out from the others multiplexed with the KVM. I just need to buy the DVI cable.

Everybody scream motherfuckinghunkofpieceofshit!

| September 26, 2003

I'm pissed. I've been pissed for a couple days. Behind schedule, and of course, and I helped with the server migration, and it's been two fucking weeks since I touched it, and the guy talking with the database company hasn't done anything, so it's still “broken” (which has more to do with the busted-ass Windows 3.1 database than anything else), but now inquiries are turning from “oh, well fix it as soon as you can” to “it's broken, you broke it, you need to fix it now. You need to move it back to Windows NOW, because it worked there, you destroyed thousands of man-hours of work”, and I said that the day after we moved, because I knew this was going to happen. So, I backed off, let other people handle it, and guess what – it's not fixed yet. Meanwhile, people are getting on my shit for it. Of course, I am responsible – I got a real sysadmin hired, I pushed for the Linux move, all that. Once the infrastructure was in place, when this problem first came up, I was like “Move it back. Move it back NOW.” but I was overruled. But it's still my fault.

I'm ready to walk out, spend 3 days moving all my shit back to my parents' basement and head out somewhere. Anywhere. Leave everything behind and start fresh. I'm sick of this bullshit. I go out on a limb and get fucked for it. Not just the server thing, everything.

Not realistic, but it makes a nice dream.

I suppose it doesn't matter much. Like Chapin says – “But you can travel on ten thousand miles, and still stay where you are.”



| September 25, 2003

Waiting for folks to come down for a demo of a printer again.

Of course, this is the “beat to hell, on it's last legs, relegated to driver testing because we don't care how good the cards look” printer. But, the good printers are on a FedEx truck somewhere between New Orleans and here. So, suddenly, this printer is the best we've got.

Oh well.

In the news:

Remember the Anti-Drug programs in school? Well, here come the anti-copyright infringement programs.

Reliance on MS is a danger to national security Shit, I could have told you that.

In other news: I'm going to play around with BeOSMax. I meant to play with Be in my youth and never really got there. I wish it had been more successful, but the problem is that it was a company, so Microsoft could kill it by shutting it out of the business (hence why they just won an antitrust lawsuit.) So, the code kind of went out into the ether, and some people got the source code, and are patching and modifying it to keep it alive. Other projects are trying to implement a Be-like OS (using the same type of design, but a new implementation) that is compatible with real BeOS, but runs on a Linux kernel. This avoids licensing issues, because it's all GPL-ed code + new code that can be licensed however they like.

Plans for tonight: Hanging in the coffeehouse.

The end of an era

| September 22, 2003

Liz and I went to a computer show yesterday. It was basically dead. I suppose the problem is the internet. Why bother to buy lots of stuff and cart it around to shows when you can just set up an online store and ship it to people? They had some cheap media, but that was about it. The other prices were competitive at best, and the selection was so-so. Ironic that the items that you are selling are what is radically altering your business. So, I guess computer fairs are dying out.

Kate and Simon came over last night for dinner. Simon brought strawberry wine. It was good, but a little sweet for my taste. I made chicken and salad and au gratin potatoes (from scratch, no boxes. That would be lame). American Pie was on TV, and we all lamented the lack of decent music in the past ten years or so. But, I suppose everyone says that about the music of their youth and everything since.


| September 20, 2003

, told me that Magnolia was a good movie. What kind of drugs were you on there, hun? I mean, the character development, all 2 and a half HOURS of it was very well done, but there was no freaking PLOT! The only good part of it was the frogs, because they were funny. Hannibal, on the other hand, was quite good. I don’t know why people think Dr. Lecter was such a bad guy – he only killed evil, flawed people. Name me one virtuous individial he’s killed. Also, Julianne Moore as Starling? No. Sorry. She’s no Jodie Foster. There’s a computer show tomorrow. Drooling is fun. 🙂 Time for ice cream.

So, it's the weekend

| September 19, 2003

Finally. Long week at work, but it's finally done. Plus, most of the major problems that were bugging me this week seem to have been resolved.

In the news:

New PC form factor : BTX.

Friendlier, more insecure ATM's – they run Windows.

1000MB != 1GB = sue.

Yet another Windows Worm.

There's a computer show this weekend at CCRI. I'll have to ring Mike (he's in the market for a computer) and see if he wants to go.

Oop, dinner's ready.

Busy busy

| September 16, 2003

The domain migration is done. We moved 3 Windows machines to 2 Debian GNU/Linux servers. They're beefy. Dual Athlon MP's of high spec (2600? 2800? something like that), ICP Vortex SATA raid controller, 4 120GB drives in a RAID-5 array. Gigabit ethernet. And there are 2 of them. They're beefy. Cheap too. Like $3,000 for each. The Tape drives we're buying to back them up cost as much as the servers. In theory, with a RAID array, you should never need backups, but we're not that foolish. Took awhile though. Worked Saturday, and ended up having to leave a dinner party on Sunday to go help some more. It went pretty smoothly, overall. Most of the issues were resolved Monday, today there's only one problem with our database software, and that's because it's old and doesn't understand long file names.

In other news, there was a really good article on Windows -> Linux migration here . Basically says what most veteran Unix people know: don't have a windows goober try and do Linux. Windows is crippled, yet they accept this as typical. So, they apply the same crippled logic to Unix make it run like crap. Now, in theory, the converse is true, but I've not found that to be the case. Sure, Unix people do things to Windows to make it more Unixy, but that's stuff like installing better shells and command line tools, scripting things, installing perl, etc. These are not really different setups, just different management tools. In general, Unix admins make better Windows admins than Windows admins do.

In still more news, women can no longer hold men hostage . Plus, it looks like it may end up being more effective than the female pill. How many men have been tricked into child support/marriage/etc. by women who go off the pill to try and trap them. Well, no more, ladies! I expect this to be just as liberating to men as the female pill was in the 60's. Where do I sign up?

(public safety announcement – When you're hitting it with random women, still wrap it up, not doing so is stupid. This is more that you're in a relationship on the way down the drain and she's trying to trap you into staying with a baby, and all you want is a little goodbye sex.)

In theory, we're making up Shadowrun characters, except I'm a munchkin and am basically done. So, I guess it's time for a cigar.

Back in the saddle again

| September 13, 2003

So, I have to work tomorrow. G/f Liz and I are migrating all the computers from the old Windows domain over to the new Linux domain. So, I whipped out a quick perl script to handle the mailserver inbox migration. The old server was almost mbox style, except that they were split out into different files and missing some sumarry info. In addition to that, there are 2 other files for each piece of mail. So, everything in your inbox has 3 files associated with it. Can someone say “file allocation size?” Each file uses a multiple of 4K. So, the 3 files, totalling about 4.5K of data, are actually using 12K. This is multiplied across all the files left in your inbox. Stupid. Most mail servers just use one file – so, it will only waste, at most, 4K (assuming you are just big enough to get another allocation block, but not enough to use the whole thing.).

In other news, yet another blowhard is suggesting that people get licensed before going online. I find this amusing because I am largely immune to these problems. I don't run Windows, and am behind a NAT router that doesn't route anything but SSH traffic to my home network. What really amuses me is the fact that so many people are screaming “this shouldn't happen, protect us”, and it's just stupid. You are stupid and left your shitty OS completely exposed on your cable modem, didn't apply any patches, and use known vulnerable mail readers and web browsers. Now, some people would say “but people don't know this”. THEY DO KNOW THIS. And they know because I TELL THEM. I say “you shouldn't use Outlook Express, go download Thunderbird. You shouldn't use Internet Explorer, go download Mozilla”, and they don't because they don't care. Well, then it serves you right when your machine shits itself because you didn't listen. I've taken steps to protect myself, so I just sit back and laugh.

I think any type of licensing or regulatory agency is bad for the internet. It has been equated to the Wild West, and I like it like that. It is the last frontier.