The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

Coffee, elections, roommates

| January 30, 2005

  • I’m currently trying the “buy good coffee and add flavored syrups to get a better cup of flavored coffee” approach. However, what I find is that I’m getting a sweet cup of coffee (I take mine with milk and no sugar). Does anyone have any suggestions on less-sweet flavor syrups? I’m currently using Dolce syrups, becuase they were cheap. Perhaps I’m doing something wrong here? AAt this point, I’m about to declare the experiment failed, and just buy some flavored coffee from a small roaster, where hopefully the quality will be a little better.
  • The news hour is reporting on elections in Iraq. It’s amazing to see what’s going on; how many people are trying to stop them, how people are risking their lives to vote. It makes me wonder how many Americans would vote if placed into that situation . Our votor turnout is so low already, what would happen if it actually became difficult to vote? I mean, my typical bravado says that I would load up my .45 and head out to the polls, and if I was attacked I could at least defend myself. However, the the coalition policy has been to ban personal firearms ownership for security reasons. This would definitely give me pause – I’m supposed to go as a sheep and trust the police and US occupation force to protect me? Give me a break.
  • Irene has moved out! She got a job down in Maryland, so Liz and I now have the apartment to ourselves. This also means that we have a guest room (with fold out sofa bed). Liz and I decided that it will be her office, since her computers (the Macs) are quieter than my rack of servers and therefore are less likely to disturb company. She was feeling a little bad because she feels that I don’t really have a space to myself. To an extent, she’s right, but it doesn’t bother me that much. I would like a room to myself in a bigger place, but if the other room must remain a guest room, then it’s not really my space anyway. So, I have the solarium, which is nice and I don’t mind. After all, the living room is mostly my stuff, and it’s a very comfortable space, and I don’t mind the fact that it is a public area.

My web presence

| January 28, 2005

Liz just informed me that if you google for “seven moons” RI (the seven moons must be in quotes), on the second page is a link to my LJ. 🙂 I feel special.

One more thing

| January 28, 2005

Just when I thought that The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was the worst move ever, I rented Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Nice CG, no plot.

All hail my mighty wang!

| January 28, 2005

One of the side effects of working from home and having a TiVo is that you see a lot of commercials (because you tend to just let it run while you're working). Of course, when watching this much TV (mostly SciFi, History Channel, and SpikeTV), you realize that every third commercial is the Enzyte”>http://www.enzyte.com/”>Enzyte commercial; “for natural male enhancement”. It's just starting to get a little old, folks.

  • I ordered my Mac Mini today. 80GB HDD, SuperDrive, Bluetooth + AirPort, 512MB RAM upgrade. I ordered it from MacMall, because they’re running special rebates (free Keyboard and Mouse, headphones, and $$ off an Epson all-in-one, which is for Liz). So, now I’ll be able to figure out how to make Macs and Linux machines talk nicely to each other. My goal is to do full Rendezvous support, some type of file sharing (SMB or NFS, haven’t decided yet) and basically, lots of happy integration. For the curious, this Mac will not be running Linux. If it was a laptop it would (because it would be my primary machine), but the screen resolution still isn’t there, so I’m not buying Mac laptops. Ergo, this is merely an auxiliary testing machine, and therefore will only run one OS.
  • Of course, the Mac Mini begs the question: how do I integrate it into my systems? Well, I have a KVM, but it’s a PS/2 KVM. The Mac Mini (as well as many other machines) is coming only as USB. Now, I could buy one of these dual interface (PS/2 or USB) KVM switches. The catch is that the KVM is about $400, and then each cable is $30 or so (and there are 8). This is expensive. A cheaper route is the intelligent KVM cable. It plugs into a PS/2 KVM and into a USB Computer. Now, I was skeptical – I wasn’t sure it would work. But, I bought one, and it’s working just fine. So, I’ll pick up an 8 port PS/2 KVM (which can be had for about $150) plus 3 more of those cables (which are $25 each from NewEgg.com.
  • I’ve been diddling around with XUL and FireFox extensions. I’m fairly impressed. It’s a nice UI language, and JavaScript is so close to C and/or Perl that I feel right at home (for those who don’t know, the XUL (XML User Interface Language) files determine form and a JavaScript file (or JavaScript embedded in the XUL).
  • I am also going to be ripping old VHS home movies to DVD. Strangely enough, I don’t plan on using the Mac for this (though if I find that the open source tools don’t work, it is my fallback). However, I’ll keep people appraised of what I use and how it works.
  • I’ve started reading Alton Brown’s Blog: Rants and Raves. I like Alton; he does my kind of cooking show.
  • So, I sent an email to Games Workshop asking about rules in the new codex. Email thread follows (my response is first):
    That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. This is a TECHNICAL question, which may require RESEARCH. Ergo, the written word is the correct form of correspondance for this question. I am not going to sit on the phone waiting for it to be looked up. Be advised that I will be publically reporting this policy and incident via weblog, under the heading of “Why GW is lame”. US Customer Service wrote: > > Dear Customer, > > While we appreciate your taking the time to write to us, we can no > longer answer rules questions via email. Please call us at > 1-800-394-4263 and we will gladly help you work your way through your > query. > If you have any more questions, comments, or concerns please feel free > to drop us a line or call us at (800) 394-GAME! > > Thanks! > > Lance > Games Workshop -Call Center Manager > Games Workshop USA Direct Services 6721 Baymeadow Drive > Glen Burnie, MD 21060-6401 > > We take care of all of your GW related needs: orders, questions & > concerns. Hours of operation: 10AM to 9PM (EST) seven days a week. > Call us at 1-800-394-4263 > Check us out on the Web: http://us.games-workshop.com/ > > (No roolzboyz judgement is official until it is printed in Chapter > Approved) > > UK Direct Services: 011-441-1591-40000 > Canadian Direct Services: 1-888-GW-TROLL > “Now only the most dedicated, or insane, will follow him, but this is of > no consequence to Kharn, who lives only to slay in the Blood God’s > name.” > > >> —–Original Message—– >> From: Matthew Caron [mailto:matt@mattcaron.net] Sent: Tuesday, January 25, 2005 6:35 PM >> To: US Customer Service >> Subject: Space Marine Codex: Rules Question >> >> On p. 30, The Terminator Command squad entry lists the “Teleport” special ability. However, the >> command squad may only be taken when attached to an independent character. The >> independent character does not have this ability, even if the character has Terminator Armor. >> The Terminator Armor rules (p.25, Space Marine Codex”) state that any model wearing terminator >> armor can be teleported onto the battlefield and set up using the Deep Strike rules, but only if >> the mission allows it. So, what is right? >> 1.) The terminator armor entry is wrong and all units can teleport in, regardless if Deep Strike can >> be used or not. >> 2.) The terminator command squad entry is wrong and shouldn’t have a teleport entry. >>3.) Something else?
    It’s like: Come on guys, my questions improve your product because it shows ambiguity. I’m not going to sit on the phone with you just to get this answered. Stop sucking.
  • Beretta bought Uberti (makes reproduction cowboy guns). So, my guns list has been revised as follows:
    • Beretta Stampede Deluxe chambered in .357 magnum, 7.5 inch barrel. Basically, a Colt Peacemaker with modern safety features and a lower price tag.
    • Marlin 1894C chambered in .357 magnum. Your classic lever action rifle.
    • Some cheap Coach Gun shotgun (basically a double-barreled shotgun with a 20 inch barrel, so it’s fairly short
    • A VEPR AK-47 with the composite furniture. Basically, a quality AK.
    • A PTR-91K. US Production of an HK91.
    • A Bushmaster M4 Type Rifle. Basically a civilian M4
    • A Bushmaster A3 .308 Carbine. This is the Stoner blowback action and system modified to take FAL mags, which are readily available
    • Once this is done, I’ll switch back to buying pistols. Probably something in the new .45GAP. Of course, it’s going to take me about a year to buy all the above guns.
    • I should probably mention that I don’t really like the Stoner action. The little gas port tends to get fouled. The Kalashnikov action is much more rugged. However, the manufacturing quality (or lack thereof) of the Russian industrial machine led them to be a bit less accurate than the M16’s. But, it presents an interesting compare/contrast and therefore is worth having both.
    • A reproduction Thompson and domestic production MP5 will probably make it on to this list at some point as well. I don’t understand why SMG’s are classed short-barrelled rifles and therefore just like machine guns. It’s kind of silly. After all, SMG’s are probably the best home defense weapon, especially when chambered for .45ACP. Good stopping power, yet when placed in a larger form factor than a pistol, easily controllable.
    Anyway, guess that’s it for tonight. Time to go eat sushi.

Plans for being snowed in?

| January 23, 2005

What are folks doing today? I ordered some coffee and flavored syrups from CoffeeAM. I'm watching silly movies of Lizzy's choosing (Win a date with Tad Hamilton, 13 going on 30, etc.), and am going to work on some models and stuff (back to putting together my Tau army).

Oh, and I'm authoring a set of rules for modern warfare. I'm using 20mm (or 1/72nd scale) miniatures, but they can be used for varying sizes. Squad scale; guys with Dragon Tanks. If anyone is interested in beta testing them, let me know. I'll probably post them when they're done, but I'm in no rush, so don't expect them soon.

Of course, it's too cold and snowy to prime the figures, so I can't paint them, hence why I'm putting together my Tau army.

Oh, and I got the new Marines codex. The biggest change for me is that the Assault Cannon doesn't jam and blow up anymore.

Flashes of yesterday

| January 23, 2005

  • Kidnapped my mom and took her to the Apple store where she bought Civilization III, the Myst trilogy and iWork. Then, she bought an iPod for my dad.
  • It’s snowing!
  • The golf is really good in the snow
  • My brother got engaged. I’m not sure how this makes me feel. I love the girl, I think it’s a good match.
  • Driving home at 40mph and dealing with stupid people who can’t handle the snow, the amber alert sign on route 4 is going off. What does it say? “Road conditions might require reduced speed”. Thank you captain obvious!

Okay, this is starting to get silly

| January 16, 2005

A federal court has declared that the Cobb County (Atlanta) schoolboard remove a sticker that says “This techbook contains material on evolution. Eveolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered” from textbooks that had been previously labeled by the school board, on the grounds that this is an endorsement of religion.

Uhm. Call me silly, but doesn't that statement accurately describe most science of which we're aware? That's the first thing you learn – it's all a theory, question everything. Basically, the judge said that questioning evolution endorses the theory of creationism. How? Just questioning everything is a goodthing.

I just think that both sides of the creation/evolution debate are being silly. Question either of them back far enough and you hit a wall that we can't answer. Examine them both enough, and you find that they're not as contradictory as you think. So, maybe both are right, maybe neither. Meanwhile, I'll admit that I don't know and get on with my life.

And, I'm starting to feel old. I helped my grandmother move yesterday, and must have lifted something badly, because my foot is killing me, right in the arch. So, I picked up some arch support insoles. So, I'm one step away from orthopedic shoes.

Arthur (my cat) is driving me nuts. See, we keep the bathroom door closed because Mikey (Liz's cat) is a freak and likes to eat Q-Tips. Arthur has decided that he likes that room, so he paws at the door. At night. While we're trying to sleep. When we get out of bed, he runs away, because he knows we're going to yell at him. And, he's right. If he doesn't cut it out, I'm going to strangle him.

I'm watching the world bartending championships. What these guys can do is very impressive.

Ah! My head!

| January 13, 2005

Okay, so the Mac Mini (aka headless Mac) is out and I have to say that Apple is toying with my emotions. On the one hand, kudos to them. Looks like a solid machine, at a price point that most folks can handle (at $500, you might even get into the senior citizens market). That said, I REALLY wish it came with a G5 processor (although, there is a SuperDrive option, which is mostly there).

So, the jury is still out. I'm not sure if I'll pick up one of these and just live with the G4 (takes all night to render a DVD as opposed to just a few hours) or maybe wait for a G5.

Of course, the way I want it, it will be almost $1000. Need to pay off Christmas first. And, I'll either need to be running 2 keyboards and mice or buy a new KVM that does USB. I'll probably do the latter, and upgrade to 8 port while I'm at it.

Recapturing my youth

| January 12, 2005

For all you folks who played XCOM: UFO Defense and XCOM: Terror From The Deep, check out UFO: Aftermath. It has no affiliation with XCOM, but is kind of the same sort of deal (Aliens are coming and you have to save the world). It's a “real time turn based” tactical game (if that makes sense). Basically, time goes on until your guys see something, and then it automatically pauses and allows you to react. It plays pretty well. There is a demo on the downloads page. It has some bugs, but it looks like they've patched them. They're also doing another installment of the game, called Aftershock. It's reasonable, too – like $20-$25.

Also, I joined a shooting range, American Firearms School. It's a nice, professional, range. Good ventilation, nice crowd of folks (lots of police and federal agents). They have rentals, classes, similators, lots of stuff. Plus, since it's such a crowd of professionals, you never know what people are going to show up with (Last time, there were some older gents playing with Thompson. As in, Chicago mobs of the '20's, .45 caliber full automatic Thompson? Yeah, that one. Plus, some cops with MP5's and AR-15's.) Anyway, I highly recommend it.

Ah well, getting late.

The things you see…

| January 10, 2005

Sorry I've been gone for so long. Blame the holidays, video games, and nothing much to say. However, I've found something to talk about:

When walking to the Wakefield mall Staples from the parking lot, I saw a wonderful poster in the bus shelter that lead one to believe that merely getting caught with alcohol under the age of 21 would lead to a suspension of your license, even if you're not driving. That can't be right, can it? Yep, it is. House bill 2004 H 7333. Of course, it's a “may be subject to a minimum 60 day license suspension”, but it's still bullshit. If you're driving, that's one thing, but we're not talking driving here, folks; we're talking simple posession.

Of course, this brings up the larger issue – why do we worry about this in the first place? Drinking and operating a motor vehicle causes a public safety concern, and should be dealt with harshly. But just drinking? Come on.

Of course, for those of you who haven't been following it, it gets better. As detailed in this article the practice of parents allowing their kids to have supervised drinking parties (we had sleepovers where some guy's dad would buy us beer and no one would be allowed to go home) is being legislated against. Just knowingly allowing the party to happen is potentially illegal.

How did this country end up with such a huge stick up it's ass?

1.) It's a very simple concept – if people aren't hurting anyone, let them be. 2.) How much longer are we going to stave off adulthood? This prolonged adolescence is a byproduct of the industrial revoution, and hence, is completely artifical. People used to be apprenticed starting at age 12. Now, it's 18. Why? Maybe pushing it back a couple years is not a bad thing, but 6? 3.) Of course, it's still not consistent – 18 is the age of majority, but not really, because there's a bunch of stuff you can't do until you're 21 (Handguns and alcohol come to mind). Pick an age and stick with it.

Of course, this whole thing isn't all that surprising. After all, the government is supposed to be the personal policeman. Never mind that something isn't a danger to the society, it's enough that the activity can somehow be construed as “bad” and therefore it needs to be criminalized. It doesn't matter that, in theory, you are an individual who can choose. The powers that be are smarter than you are, they will determine what is good for you, make everything bad for you illegal, and make sure to take care of you.

And, of course, once everyone has grown fat and happy on the teat of the state, and all our means of defending ourselves have been exchanged for a police force enforcing the will of said state, and all the flavor has been sucked out of life, some enterprising group appear, stage a coup, and the public will be left powerless. Of course, the real truth is that they likely wouldn't even care – after all, as long as the police are still there to “protect” us, and the various social programs stay up, why does it matter?

MADD == Modern temperence movement. Listen to them for a bit; responsible drinking is not the message they convey. Their message is one of prohibition.

In other news, radio host Garrison Keillor is of the opinion that born-again Christians shouldn't vote. Now, assuming he's serious (or at the very least, engaging in semi-serious satire) it still comes back to this fundamental stupidity on both sides of the fence.

1.) I have to go with Liz M. on this one – if you didn't vote in the presidential election, you have no right to complain for the next 4 years. There were a LOT of candidates on the ballot, and I'm sure you could have found SOMEONE you could get behind. This goes for both sides. And no, the “It doesn't matter, RI will go to Kerry no matter what I vote for” doesn't hold water, because if everyone feels like that, no other votes get cast.

2.) Everyone has a right to vote. I don't care what your politics are, you should be able to get behind this. That's kind of the whole point. Unless you want to go back to the “only rich white men can vote” system of things….

3.) Yes, the electoral college is stupid. That argument even held water 4 years ago. But, like it or not: a.) Bush was elected by electoral college. b.) Bush was elected by popular vote. c.) Bush was elected by majority popular vote (which, surprisingly, doesn't happen all that much). This is not a reason to leave the electoral college in place; by all means, get rid of it. However, the country has spoken, and like it or not, they chose Dubya. (Don't blame me, I voted libertarian). And besides, they don't say that it's a choice between a Giant Douche and a Turd Sandwich for nothing.

I suppose that's enough of a rant for tonight. Misc notes:

  • WRT54G v2.2 doesn't like the Sveasoft Satori firmware. So, it can't be used as a wireless bridge for a PS2
  • Star Wars Battlefront is probably one of the better FPS's I've played in awhile. The split screen is fun with friends.
  • Ace Combat '05 is basically Ace Combat '04 revisited. You'd think they'd ad online play or something.
  • GTA: San Andreas keeps getting heckled by Liz because of the super ghetto dialoge. That said, it's definitely a decent third installment. However, the shooting stuff still needs work. You need to be able to always go to a FPS mode, or it needs to automagically target the closest enemy.
  • Red Dead revolver is not worth $50, but it's kind of campy and fun for $15 used.
  • Eagerly awaiting Mercenaries.
  • Doom 3 is friggin creepy.
  • I want lightguns that work with HDTV and don't suck.