The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

Back in black…

| September 30, 2004

This month had an extra paycheck in it. With that paycheck, I paid off the rest of my credit card debt. I now owe no money to anyone, though I haven't bought my car yet, which will put me a decent amount in the hole (though that is at a much lower rate than the 15% or whatever that my credit cards are).

This is the first time that I've been completely in the black for in over three years. It's kind of a nice feeling.

I also do not plan to go back into the red, with the exception of a car and eventually a house. So, we'll see how I'm doing with that after Christmas. 🙂


| September 30, 2004

You know the “doctor” program in emacs? The one that attempts to psychoanalyze you? Well, along a similar vein (okay, maybe not), there is a standalone console app for linux called sex, which does mad-libs style sentence construction.

“No, no, do the goldfish!” grunted the wanton secretary as the egg-sucking handsome priest grudge fucked her moist fried eggs and pushed his boney lollipop into her odiferous ass. “At last!” whimpered the piano playing nymphomaniac as the nose-grooming paraplegic pothead penetrated her jiggling charlies and eased his boney prong into her scarred slit. “You aren’t my father!” stammered the doe eyed Duchess as the pile-driving homosexual flamingo tongue slashed her juicy globes and ripped his swinish intruder into her odiferous nose. “Faster!” croaked the nymphomaniacal waitress as the three-legged donkey fondled her rosey buns and crammed his humongous finger into her hymeneal palace. “Cheese it, the cops!” salivated the blue-eyed housewife as the clam shucking friar tongue slashed her moist jugs and hammered his rigid arm into her weapon-less ass.

The Real Debates

| September 30, 2004

Green/Libertarian party debates tonight:

Doesn't look like major networks are carrying it, but there is a webcast.

The interesting thing is that after the Bush/Kerry debate, they'll be back to heckle and refute the major party candidates' points.

Bearing in mind, of course, that the major party debates are basically scripted, which predisclosed questions and prepared responses.


| September 27, 2004

Last night I made Creme Caramel au Cafe (aka Coffee Flan). It came out okay. The carmel was a little overcooked and burnt, but other than that, it was okay (no chunks!).

I got parchive working with my dar backup scripts, so now if a backup DVD gets scratched, I can attempt to recover up to 10% corruption. If I lose the DVD, I'm screwed, but that's okay, because this is a tier 3 backup.

I also switched to bash, basically because one of the nice people on the Linux Livejournal community pointed me at some nice resources that convinced me that bash was better than tcsh. Unfortunately, I can't find the original post, so I can't link to it.

Let's see, what else… Ah, OpenSolaris. Sun is going to open up Solaris under some OSI compatible license. I think that's nifty, and I'm going to set up a box to play with it when it comes out. A lot of people are pretty angry at this – they think that Sun should pour that money into Linux. I don't necessarily agree. I think that Solaris is a decent base, and that competition is good for the industry. Plus, Sun does a lot of neat things, and I applaud them for going with some type of OSI compatible license, and I understand if they don't want to use the GPL. Their call.


| September 25, 2004

(Liz is watching this show called Joan of Arcadia. In case people aren't aware, it's a program about this teenager to whom God appears and guides her life. Not bad. Better than seventh heaven. Anyway, it got me thinking about things religious.)

First come the Christ fish.

Then come the Darwin fish.

Now, my father has a Truth fish eating a Darwin fish.

What's the big deal?

Why is it so difficult for scientific people to accept the possibility that electrochemical/biological/etc. reactions are guided by some type of higher power? After all, we do it each time we bake bread.

On the flip side, why is it so difficult for religious people to accept that things may not just get miracled into existence, but rather that they are created through a process. It's like the people who go to the supermarket and buy meat (or bread) and assume that it just appears there, not that it actually came from somewhere.

And while we're at it, why can't people put Biblical edicts into historical perspective? After all, most of the Old Testament directives need to be viewed through the eyes of a nomadic, persecuted people. You don't want sex out of wedlock, birth control, etc., because you need to keep the population up. Same thing with homosexuality (and perhaps why it only addresses male homosexuality).

Tivo is nifty

| September 24, 2004

We hooked it up to the network and now the Macs can share iPhoto and iTunes stuff to it. I just need to get it working under Linux. The JavaHMO project does it, except that it doesn't quite work (the java stuff throws an exception and gets pissed). Plus the hard drive arrived so that we can replace the 40GB one with a 120GB one.

In other news, I love Cartman's views on women… If you don't know what I mean, you need more South Park.

In other other news, I have gotten good news. I am going to be replaced as Software Engineering Manager at work. This may seem like bad news, but it's not. I really don't enjoy it. I just want to be responsible for my own schedule and be able to fix things and write firmware and not be stuck making schedules and spreadsheets and proposals.

Aside from that, my car is still in the order queue to be built. That makes me sad. The man said he'd call me back when he heard more, but it would probably be a couple weeks. Oh well.

You have got to know the answer to this question!

| September 18, 2004

(ignore college for this agrument; in collegiate programs, it comes down to revenues)

Q: Why are music and art programs cut in school before sports programs and phys ed? A: Because sports/phys ed teaches children to be able to function as members of a team.

Q: Why do we need to function as members of a team? A: Because that is the way the world is; that is how to become a good corporate citizen.

Art and music teaches creative thinking and independence. Granted, orchestral music performances are heavily regimented, but most other groups are merely loose affiliations of creative individuals, making music, enjoying themselves. Sports are not like that. In order for the team sports to work, you have to play as part of a team, against an opposing team, according to the rules. Otherwise, you are cheating. Team sports train you in structure. It trains you to do your best because winning is everything, and if you lose you let your teammates down. With music, there is rarely such a thing. Certainly, if you suck, then you will likely destroy the band's sound. However, you are usually not competing against another band. So, provided you do well, there is no way to lose. With sports, you can do your best, and it's still not good enough. So, you're left in the situation where you're always wondering what you could have done better. It keeps you doubting and fearful, which is exactly what they want.

So-called alternative sports, such as paintball, fishing and hunting, are generally marginalized for a variety of reasons. They don't get media coverage because they're not very interesting to watch. However, a variety of people would like to outlaw them. The stated reasons generally have to do with violence, killing things, etc., but I wonder whether the undercurrent is simply that these sports rely on being self-sufficient. After all, your average hockey game is at least as bloody as your average deer hunt, and that violence is perpetrated upon your fellow man.

The first rule of fight club…

| September 18, 2004

So, over the past week, I've been driving to and from a customer site up past Boston (90 miles up 95). This has given me plenty of time to think upon many subjects, detailed past the cut.

Subjects: driving, Mass drivers, the American educational system, motivation, coporatism, conforming, disruptive technologies, .

(Note that corporations means large corporations here, like fortune 1000. A small LLC or Inc. with 20 employees is not really within the scope of what I'm talking about here)

– Driving up and down 95 past Boston definitely gets one used to traffic. Taking the curves at 90 makes me want my Volkswagen – I don’t know why people bitch about Mass drivers. Sure, they drive fast, but they seem much better than RI drivers. – I’ve ordered John Taylor Gatto’s book, “The Underground History of American Education”. It came with a free tape recording of a talk that he gave entitled “A Short Angry History of American Education”. The general point he tries to convey in the talk (and presumably in the book, though to more detail) is that the current nationalized educational system is designed not to educate, but rather to churn out “productive members of society”. What is a productive member of society? Well, for starters, a good corporate citizen. Someone easily managed and controlled. Think about it – people need to be educated and specialized (especially in technical professions). They do not, however, need to be particularly intelligent or creative. A generally accepted opinion is that large corporations are excellent manufacturers and refiners of design, but poor innovators. Most innovations are acquired by large coporations when they buy some smaller, more innovative company. The employees from the small, innovative company are generally all out the door within five years, and the cycle repeats. Indeed, there are intelligent folks whose whole business model is to create a new business every 5-10 years, get it off the ground, then sell the technology at huge profit. The problem with intelligent and creative people working in large corporations is that they threaten the status quo, they threaten the structure. They have criticisms, suggestions, and disagreements. They are independent, believing in the autonomy of the individual. This makes them difficult to manage, and ultimately they become frustrated and annoyed and leave the company. – This brings up the next point – motiviation. Assuming you’re an intelligent, creative, independent person, then why do you continue to work for such companies? This becomes an especially important question when putting in huge numbers of hours away from your family. The simple answer is money. You need a job, you need to eat. (We’ll get back to this later). Money means fear. You are afraid of being fired, because you need money. However, assume that you are not afraid, because you’re arrogant enough to think you can get a job anywhere (and maybe you can). What other reasons? 1. A personal stake – you have a stake in the success or failure of the company. 2. You enjoy what you do – you enjoy your job and don’t feel stifled 3. Duty – you have a sense of duty and feel that you owe the company something for hiring you in the first place. 4. Fear – mentioned above There are probably more, but these are probably the most. Taking them in order: 1. It’s a huge corporation; you have no personal stake. Succeed, you will likely not see any more reward. Fail, and you may get fired, but that’s as bad as it can get. After all, you are just a cog in this huge machine. 2. Maybe. I suppose it happens. However, I find it pretty unlikely. 3. This is bred in by a variety of things in the educational system, but doesn’t really exist. It’s not the military, it’s just a job. They owe you no more than a paycheck, you owe them no more than a good day’s work. 4. This is where it gets really interesting. Yes, you need money. But how much? This is where education really starts to take place. People are trained to be good consumers, good impulse buyers. “Working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need”. Think about it – companies LOVE it when you buy things. It means you will need to keep working for them to keep the house, cars, computers, toys, and that you can’t just up and quit because you hate your job. This is fostered by the incessant marketing bombardment. You have to keep buying things, which means you have to keep working in order to support the cycle. – So, you need to conform in order to be a good corporate citizen. However, the more interesting thought I’m having now is “what if you don’t”? What if you limit yourself to working for small companies – say fewer than 100 people, and that is the way you live your life. Maybe it will be frustrating, but it won’t be frustrating in the same way that a nameless, faceless corportation is. You can handle the scope, you can make a difference, you can have an effect. – Finally, disruptive tecnologoes. Liz and I just bought a Tivo. Tivo was/is a small, innovative company. I can see why most large companies hate them. They’re cheap – $100 for the unit + $13/month or $300 lifetime buy for the subscription. However, you are no longer subject to a regimented life. You watch the shows you want and have recorded when you want to see them. There is no need to watch what they want when they want. You don’t have to watch incessant drivel anymore. And, most importantly, you don’t have to watch commercials. This is perhaps the most serious threat to #4. If you don’t see “must-have” products, then you won’t buy those products, and therefore you won’t need to keep working the nasty job you hate… Or, maybe I’m just off my rocker. Suggested reading/viewing: – Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk – Brave New World, Aldus Huxley – Rollerball (the 1975 one w/ James Caan) “My grandfather was a painter, he died at age 88 and he illustrated Robert Frost’s first two books of poetry and he was looking at me and he said “Harry, there’s two kinds of tired: there’s good tired, and there’s bad tired.” He said, “Ironically enough, bad tired can be a day that you won, but you won other people’s battles, you lived other people’s days, other people’s agendas, other people’s dreams, and when it was all over, there was very little you in there, and when you hit the hay at night, you toss and turn, you don’t settle easy. Good tired, ironically enough, can be a day that you lost, but you don’t even have to tell yourself, because you knew you fought your battles, you chased your dreams, you lived your days, and when you hit the hay at night, you settle easy. You sleep the sleep of the just and you can say “take me away.”” He said, “Harry, all my life, I wanted to be a painter, and I’ve painted. God, I would have loved to be more successful. But, I’ve painted, and I’ve painted, and I am good tired, and they can take me away.” Now, if there is a process, in your and my lives, in the insecurity that we have about a prior life or an afterlife, God, I hope there is a God, if he does exist, he’s got a rather wierd sense of humor, but if there’s a process that will allow us to live our days, that will allow us that degree of equanimity, towards the end, looking at that black, implacable wall of death, to allow us that degree of peace, that degree of non-fear, I want in.” – Harry Chapin

Work buggery

| September 3, 2004

Okay, so I find this problem at work. Basically, there is always the question about software conflicting with other software installed, right? So, I asked a couple developers about their design, and basically find out that there shouldn't be any issues and it should all work fine. No problem, right? Well, these guys CC-ed their boss on their reply, and he likes the idea so much that he tells me that I need to test it and make sure that it all works. 3 lines of printers, 3 interfaces, all combinations. WTF? How am I responsible for this.

This is, of course, why no one sticks their neck out in big companies. Distinguish yourself by being an efficient worker, and you get more work. Be an efficient manager, you get more projects. In theory, this should come with more money, but the reviews have been so long in coming that I've given up on them. It's sad too, and I tried pushing them along, because my people deserve reviews and raises. But it's like swimming against quicksand. The HR people don't seem to care (though they'd get very offended if you tell them that) and it takes so long, and so many go arounds with trying to get them done (I have 2 reviews to do, each has gone through three revisions with HR) that eventually you just stop trying, because you can't do all the HR bullshit and still get your job done. No wonder people (especially good ones) in technical professions rarely spend more than two years at a company. You end up having to quit just to keep your workload manageable and your salary up.

In other news, I'm checking out Unison for file synchronization between machines.

I made cookies. Chocolate chip.

Tomorrow is a trip up to Warwick to get cat litter, go to Michael's and Dicks. Liz and I are thinking about taking up kayaking. Small boats are fun, and I can get racks for the golf.

Sunday, we're going to the Woodstock fair. It's you're nice rural fair.

Monday we're going to hang out with some friends at one friend's beach house.