The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

Random snippets…

| November 26, 2013

So, for years I’ve sent myself emails saying “blog about this” and a link. I’m trying to get through them and actually do that, so here are a collection of links in that vein. Some of them are quite old, but I don’t think that they are particularly time-critical – the world hasn’t changed that much since they were published, so they are still interesting to me.

  • Dirty Harry Potter – Not dirty in the not safe for work sense, dirty in the Clint Eastwood sense. It’s a surprisingly interesting examination of the distribution of force in the Harry Potter universe (and, realistically, how their world would have been different had more folks carried guns, not wands)

  • Bufferbloat – This is a very interesting series of articles which, if you deal at all with networks, you should really read. Essentially, what it comes down to is this: internet protocols are designed to compensate for unreliable networks, lossy links, etc. When you add large buffers along the chain, it masks underlying transport problems and can actually lead to worse performance than if you just let the end-devices set their data rate “naturally”. Once again, KISS triumphs.

  • Is the bandwidth hog a myth? – The interesting part from this article is here:

The fact is that what most telcos call hogs are simply people who overall and on average download more than others. Blaming them for network congestion is actually an admission that telcos are uncomfortable with the ‘all you can eat’ broadband schemes that they themselves introduced on the market to get people to subscribe. In other words, the marketing push to get people to subscribe to broadband worked, but now the telcos see a missed opportunity at price discrimination

  • Not only are they uncomfortable with it, but the reason that they may be so is that they’re so overprovisioned that if everyone started using their capacity, they might gasp have to upgrade to a proper level of provisioning, which would cut into profit margins. Think about how many people in urban areas subscribe to cable internet and get surprisingly slow speeds because everyone is on it. If you couldn’t get phone service because “all circuits were busy”, you’d raise all manner of a ruckus, and when was the last time we had rolling blackouts in the US in major metropolitan areas as a matter of course? However, it’s perfectly normal to pay for 25Mbps and get 5Mbps, and when you complain, the cable company says that they have no guarantee of service. Now, in rural areas, it’s much better, because, assuming you have access, it’s NOT generally overprovisioned. Indeed, I typically get better network speed than everyone in my engineering group at work, except, perhaps, the guy with FIOS.

A new direction.. sortof…

| November 26, 2013

This has actually been the case for awhile, but I’m now explicitly stating it – I’m changing the direction of this blog. I’m not going to talk about politics much anymore. There are enough people doing that. If you want to hear about the decline and fall of the great American experiment, I suggest reading Drudge. I have enough conversations during the day that I don’t generally feel like talking about it more on my blog.

Instead, I’m going to talk about things that make me happy – gaming, cats, kids, guns, hunting, fishing, gardening, cooking, computers, things like that, generally focusing on the positive and attempting to not be so cynical and jaded.

In case anyone was curious…

| October 12, 2013

The reason for the pile of postings is that Liz and I are watching Mega Python vs. Gatoroid and I’m organizing photos – hence the lots of photoblog posts.

The movie, is, of course, awesome, because it represents a singularity as it is a movie starring both Tiffany and Debbie Gibson.

Oh, and here’s my “Who are you on Serenity” quiz results:
Your results:
You are Wash (Ship Pilot)

Wash (Ship Pilot)
Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)
Malcolm Reynolds (Captain)
Dr. Simon Tam (Ship Medic)
Jayne Cobb (Mercenary)
Kaylee Frye (Ship Mechanic)
Inara Serra (Companion)
Derrial Book (Shepherd)
River (Stowaway)
A Reaver (Cannibal)
You are a pilot with a good
if not silly sense of humor.
You take pride in your collection of toys.
You love your significant other.

Changes to galleries

| September 26, 2013

After several years of having it in this blog, I’ve decided that lighbox gallery is silly, especially on mobile devices.

Also, small thumbnails are somewhat annoying.

So, I’m going back to the stock WordPress gallery, and will be setting the default sizes of everything to one step larger. For new posts, thumbnails will be 300×300, “medium” will be 600×600 and “large” will be 1200×1200. This is because I typically post “large” images, which means no headroom. So, I’ll switch to medium, and have the option to do large. Also, the gallery behavior for new posts will be that clicking through will bring up the full sized image, but already existing posts will do whatever they were originally configured to do (likely the attachment page, as it was the default).

Edit: I put the thumbnails back, because 1200×1200 doesn’t work. See, the CSS is fixed width, so the 600 pixel wide images fit fine, but the 1200 pixel wide ones blow the margins. The rest of this post still applies.


| September 22, 2013

So, at long last, I’ve finished recategorizing all my old imported LJ posts so that now when you go to (for example), you’ll get all the posts I’ve tagged with photos, not just the ones since 2008 (when I did the big changeover).

I still need to move over all the web pages, but there are both fewer of them and it’s more complicated.

So, it’s been a few months

| June 6, 2013

It looks like September was my last blog post.

The problem with trying to keep up with blogging about things is that it proves difficult when one is actually doing things.

Firstly, I want to apologize for flooding various folks’ LJ friends page with an “all Matt, all the time” session. When I set up my new blog software, I imported my LJ posts with generic categories. In fits and spurts, I’ve been going through and recategorizing them. However, I still have something like 500 old posts to go through and fix up. Apparently, however, when I do that, it causes them to be ordered by modification date, not original posting date, in some peoples feeds. In the future, when I make those changes, I won’t go changing the LJ side of things, just the wordpress side.

In other news, after getting fed up with my venerable WRT54G routers running out of RAM and periodically rebooting, I bought A TP-Link WDR4300, selected because of its large amount of RAM and the fact that it runs OpenmWrt.

Finally, in case anyone ever doubted that my paranoia and predilection towards cryptofetishism was justified, they are watching. Not that this is new, of course – Carnivore, anyone?

Anyway, I will endeavor to publish more frequently – I’ve just been busy living life and all that jazz. Perhaps I shall install the WordPress app on my tablet, and that will make life easier.

Yeah, I really suck at this regularly posting bit

| August 3, 2012

I’ll see if maybe I can keep it up. There’s enough stuff going on to talk about (that’s actually worth talking about), that I have things to write, but I’ve just been busy.

We put in the garden, and that’s going well.

Picked up some kayaks for our anniversary, and have been paddling about in those.

We’ve got chickens now (I’ll need to post pics) – 10 of them.

We’ve been working on the house, working at work (times are busy for both of us of late), not much else.

Just living life, I guess.

Rumors of my abduction have been greatly exaggerated.

| October 28, 2011

The problem with a blog is that you don’t have time to keep up with it when you are actually doing things. I’ve had some thoughts on various topics of philosophical natures (Occupy Wall Street, password complexity, top posting of email, etc.).

This is the latest addition to the estate, and accounts for a lot of my time over the past couple of months. We subcontracted out the building, but there was still a lot of set-up with the painting, caulking holes to make it weather tight, adding hardware, etc.

I think there is a cat in the ceiling…

| August 28, 2011

As a result of the hurricane, at least one of the cats has decided to seek refuge in the hung ceiling of the basement.

The wind is blowing, but as of right now there is nothing tremendously interesting going on – just rain and wind and we still have power. It’s flickered a bit, but is otherwise stable.

The garden has been going well so far. The pea crop was bad – largely my fault, as I underplanted. Plus, that batch of seed seemed to have a pretty poor germination.

The rest of it has been fine – squash and corn were fine, the pumpkins are looking good, as are the onions and potatoes.

Beer is good, carboys are full, and phase 2 of the beer system is complete (phase 1 was 4 kegs with ability to tap 1. Phase 2 was 4 more kegs, with the ability to tap 4. Phase 3 is bringing the taps out of the refrigerator so that they’re proper bar taps).

We’ve decided to keep chickens, starting next year. has a pile of interesting breeds. Liz found a fairly over the top chicken coop, which we’ll be hiring our neighbor to build. He builds houses, and this coop is more “small house” than “shed” or “coop”. That and the economy is pretty down, so he’s available, and building it ourselves will end up taking a couple of months of weekends.

I also picked up a new video card to add to the computer my brother gave me for my birthday. Right now, we’re playing a lot of Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and I’m planning on gearing up for Battlefield 3. This requires an upgrade to Windows 7, which I’, not particularly looking forward to, as I fear it will break a good portion of my existing games. My brother, for example, claims that he’s not been able to get Mechwarrior 4 to work.

I think that I’m going to preemptively partition the drive to multi-boot, likely using xosl as the boot loader. That way I can still play games on XP (even after it goes unsupported) if need be. The working theory is that XP will be a fallback if I can’t get it to work in Windows 7.

Anyway, pictures behind the cut. ASUS card with ATI Radeon 6870 w/ 1GB of RAM. It’s a little absurd.


Back from an unscheduled trip to Rhode Island

| April 16, 2011

Not posted before or during the trip, obviously, for reasons of operational security.

My grandfather passed away last Monday night. The wake was well attended. The funeral was on a clear, crisp spring day. Some of the local CMA chapter showed up, in support of my father and uncle who are members, and of my grandfather, who was a veteran of WWII and Korea. The processional was long – about a dozen motorcycles, glimmering in the sun with their chrome, the lead one trailing a large American flag.

We passed by the family farm, where the funeral director placed a white rose on the front steps, before we continued on to St. Theresa’s church, where the funeral was held. We then proceeded to St. Theresa’s cemetery up the street, where some naval personnel were waiting for us.

Some folks from the Navy were there, and he was laid to rest by his parish priest who was a fellow navy man himself, with military honors. (I was doing well until taps.. that always gets me).

I was going to write a little more about his life, but my father did a better job than I could in his eulogy, which I have included in its entirety below the cut. (more…)