Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I had been entirely unaware the winter solstice passed on December 21st. The days are only longer from here!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The FCC has approved Verizon Wireless' purchase of Alltel.

The deal will turn Verizon into the largest mobile carrier in the U.S., and something like the 8th largest in the world.
On October 31st the DoJ approved a Verizon/Alltel merger. All that is left is an approval by the FCC, which will involve an agreement through which Verizon must divest certain assets in 100 markets where Verizon and Alltel had overlapping operations. More on that here.

The FCC is expected to vote on the merger today (November 4th).

I'd been thinking about jumping ship to Sprint, but now I have good reasons not to: because Linnea and I still have free Internet access with our phones (due to a totally awesome loophole!) which we would lose through a switch, and because I get something like 25% off Verizon plans and devices as an employee of FedEx.

Even more enticing is Verizon's promise to allow any device from any technology-compatible (CDMA) carrier to be used on their network "in the near future." This is likely the only way you'll see a Google Android-based phone on Verizon, as Verizon opted for exclusive participation in LiMo (the Linux Mobile Foundation, proponents of the LiMo Foundation Platform) instead of the OHA (Open Handset Alliance, proponents of Google's Android).

All that said, I like to keep my options open. Linnea and I haven't been under contract for quite some time now, and the plan is to keep things that way. At least then we can jump ship on a moments notice. We'll bring our own devices, thank you very much!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Wow.

Why Mean Cheat

It's too bad he was on Oprah.
Let me break this down simply:

You act like a child, you get treated like a child. You act like an adult, you get treated like an adult.

The problem with demanding respect is that you come to the table assuming you deserve it. Come to the table assuming you deserve nothing. Come to the table assuming you must earn everything you desire. Come to the table assuming you won't always get what you want.

At least then you can be pleasantly surprised.

For Christians it is much simpler: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Am I a jerk, or do I just not put up with bullshit? I hope everyone calls me out on my bullshit my entire life. And so I call others out on theirs.

Monday, September 29, 2008

During my high school years I participated in competitive speech. Initially this was because my dad was the coach and I had no real choice. Over time I came to enjoy it, and remained because it pleased me.

Every now and again something pops into my head from those days. Maybe a line from a speech, maybe a joke someone told, maybe just something funny or stupid the team did at a meet.

The latest to come to mind (and to forcibly remain) goes a little something like this:

"Her buns were crammed into her jeans like two big scoops of vanilla ice cream."

At the time I had thought the simile was over the top. Now I'm not so sure. Every day while on my way to class I spot some girl, or more specifically her butt, and think "two big scoops".

If I can't shake a simile with the passage of 10+ years, it must be good.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Maintenance Man

He slowly pushed the recycling bin on its wheels across the parking lot between two of the school's buildings. There was an entire fleet of like bins lined up on the other side of the parking lot. He pushed his payload into their ranks.

Slowly, almost with the appearance of purpose, he systematically flipped the lids of each bin open and closed as if to take an inventory. Paper, check. Plastic, check. Cardboard, check. More paper, check. He likely reasoned nobody would notice the lack of any work being accomplished unless they stopped to observe him, and surely nobody would stop to observe while they rushed between classes.

Occasionally a student would stroll past and he would nod a friendly hello to them, then move to the next bin and flip the lid open and then closed. One hand drifted to his shirt pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. Another lid is opened, then closed.

He glanced around as the stream of students slowed to a trickle. It was time. He placed a cigarette in his mouth and made quickly to light it, cupping his hand over the flame to ward off the strong draft between the buildings. He opened another lid, and then closed it.

He continued in this pattern: Open lid, draw from cigarette, close lid, exhale. It continued for a while, yet not likely long enough for him. The cigarette had run it's course. He threw it to the ground, placed his foot on it, and did the twist.

He was triumphant. Nobody had caught on to his ruse. Slowly, he turned and shuffled back into the building.

"Poor guy," I muttered to myself, "he really does think he's invisible."

I took another sip of my tea and turned to walk away from the third story window.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Hooray, Apple! You suck!

The OSX 10.5.5 update breaks network account functionality when connecting to OSX Server 10.4.11. If you are lucky enough to be able to log in using a network account, you cannot access the local Applications or Library folders.

I found this out a tad too late, by which I mean "after I updated all 18 of the computers in the Mac lab at the art department."

(explitives deleted)

There is no way to downgrade to OSX 10.5.4 (unless, possibly, I had Time Machine enabled, which I did not). I have confirmation the problem does not exist in 10.5.4, and only rears its head when you upgrade to 10.5.5.

This kind of bug is what is called a "show stopper", and should never, ever, ever, ever, nevernevernevernevernevereverevereverever be allowed in an official release. Apple should be testing for these things. A LOT. They should be testing so much that all of their employees' bodies ache without ceasing.

It may be a lot to ask that 10.5.5 play nice with 10.2.x, but we're talking about a difference of one major revision which maintained backwards compatibility up until this point.

In summary (expletive deleted) you, Apple. You (expletive deleted) suck. It's time to grow up and learn how software is developed in the real world, not in your (expletive deleted) screwed up universe where only (expletive deleted) aesthetics matter.

(expletive deleted)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Burn, economy, burn!

Crash, market, crash!

If I were American, I might care.

Alas, I am Christian. We rejoice in all things.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

This post was getting way to long until I Ctrl-A Deleted it down a notch.

In summation of what you missed out on, the best part about using Pidgin for IM is being able to see whether or not certain MSN users still have you on their contact list. It might be possible to determine this in other clients, and possibly in MSN Messenger itself, but when I began using Pidgin (then called GAIM) it was one-of-a-kind.

It really helps in pruning my contact list.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

We are officially online at home.

Dusty and Gary had an unused rig from InvisiMax on the roof of the house they had bought, and were more than willing to give it up. It consisted of a parabolic antenna for the 2.1-2.7GHz wireless range and a gutted LinkSys WRT54Gv3 running a custom firmware.

They had severed one end of the Ethernet cable running to the unit when they had removed it from their roof, but that didn't pose much of a problem. InvisiMax had been using the two unused pairs from the Ethernet cable to run power to the WRT54G. I used my trusty multimeter to sort out the polarity of the end and a replacement power adapter, and moments later had powered on the unit. I was also able to terminate the Ethernet cable with a female jack, allowing for the InvisiMax rig to be closed permanently.

With my laptop jacked into the WRT54G, I could see InvisiMax had been using a custom firmware. It took some guesswork for the password, but I was able to obtain access and subsequently upgraded to a new firmware. My first choice had been DD-WRT, but a friend had informed me of a more graceful firmware by the name of Tomato. Within minutes I had it installed and was ready to begin fishing for an external wireless access point (WAP) to which I could bridge.

I chose a nearby WAP, fine-tuned the antenna position, and within moments was online.

After bridging the connection, I set up a second WAP running DD-WRT (this WAP is not able to run Tomato) which provides our Internet access at home.

It will take a few days to sort out the kinks, I'm sure. DD-WRT can be finicky, or so I hear. When I made a small mount for the antenna, it ended up repositioned. This will need to be fine-tuned again. Ideally, the antenna would be mounted on the roof instead of sitting in our living room.

My setup is not optimal, but I will not complain since our Internet access is presently free.

The whole experience has been enlightening. I haven't even touched on the topics of cracking WEP or wardriving, both of which occurred. Since those are on the questionable side of legality, I'll save those stories to tell in person.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Linnea and I could save $30+/month by changing to the cheapest plan Alltel offers and routing our incoming calls through our Google Grand Central accounts.

What are the hurdles?

1) We would have to ignore most (mainly non-network) incoming calls not coming through our Grand Central account
2) We would have to give up text messaging
3) We would have to limit ourselves to 500 total minutes of non-network calls per month (post-merger, Alltel calls to Verizon will be mobile-to-mobile; Grand Central calls are within Alltel's "My Circle")

What are the benefits?

1) All incoming calls could be automatically screened
2) All incoming calls could be automatically routed
3) Every other feature Grand Central brings to the table
4) No more text messaging
5) We would be in a position to switch providers at any time without needing to inform anyone of our phone number changes
6) Money saved ($360+/year)
7) One step closer to freedom from cell phones

So, Linnea, what do you say? I could call Alltel and have this done in 10 minutes.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The only thing worse than a smug person such as myself is an Apple fan-boy.

Many G4 (formerly TechTV) hosts and hostesses can be described as such. They've got it so bad that in a recent segment regarding the Google Android software platform for mobile devices the host named Apple's iPhone and RIM's Blackberry as "dominating" the smartphone market.

This is news to me. Last I checked, Symbian was dominating that market by a massive margin. So massive, in fact (65% worldwide*), that one wonders whether the iPhone (7%) or Blackberry (11%) are really worth mentioning. If we're considering their size of market share to be "dominating", then I guess even Linux (5%) is dressed in tight leather and whipping your shackled body while Microsoft's Windows Mobile (12%) puts cigarettes out on the bottom of your feet.

That kind of glaring ommission is initially confusing. After a while it becomes laughable. Give it a few more moments (and possibly take the time to repeat the ludicrous claim) and your credibility has vanished. Congratulations, you are officially a fan-boy.

What erks me most is the hosts inability to present any new information regarding Google Android. Neither new video footage, new specifications, nor new application information. Nill, nada, nothing, zilch. What a douchebag. What a waste of space.

* market share data are from Canalys report "Worldwide smart mobile device market, Canalys Q4 2007"

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A business by the name of Old 52 General Store in Sabin, MN sells "original recipe" sugarcane-based beverages (sodas, colas, pops, etc.), and appears to have a fairly decent selection.

It took a little bit of digging to obtain their contact information, but if there is a sugarcane-based beverage you are interested in you can call 218.789.7852. Their address is:

Old 52 General Store
23 Main St.
Sabin, MN

I know for certain they have Mountain Dew and Dublin Dr. Pepper. I just assume the Mountain Dew is from West Jefferson Bottling Company. From the ad which had sparked my interest (and which I had unfortunately lost) it appeared they had a very respectable selection.

I'll be asking Linnea to stop there on her way back from Iowa. If they can be convinced to ship, I might start drinking pop again!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

If ever I were to own a motorcycle, which is not entirely out of the question, it would be diesel powered. Some of my reasons are rational, some are irrational:
  • Diesel engines are more fuel efficient
  • Diesel engines require far less maintenance
  • Diesel engines provide higher torque to displacement
  • Diesel smells nice
  • Diesel engines sound better
  • Diesel engines run cooler
  • Diesel motorcycles are almost non-existant
  • Diesel vehicles are plainly and simply awesome
Without further ado, links and a video.

Wikipedia: Diesel Motorcycles
The NEANDER (turbo-diesel motorcycle)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Unknown Citizen
by W.H. Auden
(To JS/07/M/378 This Marble Monument Is Erected by the State)
He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be
One against whom there was no official complaint,
And all the reports on his conduct agree
That, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a saint
For in everything he did he served the Greater Community.
Except for the War till the day he retired
He worked in a factory and never got fired,
But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc.
Yet he wasn't a scab or odd in his views,
For his Union reports that he paid his dues,
(Our report on his Union shows it was sound)
And our Social Psychology workers found
That he was popular with his mates and liked a drink.
The Press are convinced that he bought a paper every day
And that his reactions to advertisements were normal in every way.
Policies taken out in his name prove that he was fully insured,
And his Health-card shows he was once in the hospital but left it cured.
Both Producers Research and High-Grade Living declare
He was fully sensible to the advantages of the Installment Plan
And had everything necessary to the Modern Man,
A phonograph, a radio, a car and a frigidaire.
Our researchers into Public Opinion are content
That he held the proper opinions for the time of year;
When there was peace, he was for peace; when there was war, he went.
He was married and added five children to the population,
Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his generation,
And our teachers report that he never interfered with their education.
Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:
Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Watched "Across the Universe" the other night.

This film has nothing to do with The Beatles, aside from slaughtering their music and attempting to use the lyrical content of select songs to drive the "plot" of an otherwise empty movie. It wouldn't be that bad if the covers were halfway decent, but they aren't. Consider them to be more like "interpretations" by a generation of artists who grew up listening to something other than The Beatles.

The visuals were great, but that's not how you rate a movie. If it were, I could say something entirely useless like, "It ranks right up there with Star Wars Episode I!" The dialog is disjointed, the characters are shallow, but the plot is existant albeit extremely thin. If this were an attempt to emulate The Beatles' music videos like "Help!", it was a miserable failure. They would have done themselves a favor by completely stripping out any attempts at plot.

The pinnacle of retardation came during the scene when Max and friends are attempting to lure Prudence out of her room. They may as well have tossed in a slide whistle, followed up with circus music. I felt dirty, like when a worshiper leader at a church says "Oh Lord, dear God in Heaven! God, Lord, Jesus, God, please, God, OPEN THE EYES, God, OF OUR HEARTS, Lord God Jesus!" and launches into a bruising rendition of - GASP - "Open the Eyes of My Heart."* As if it weren't obvious enough that Prudence has locked herself in her room, her friends must crowd around her door and beg her to come out... "Prudence! Why won't you come out?! Prudence, come out! Dear Prudence, she's gone and locked herself in her room!" I wonder what they're going to sing next?!

Of course, this movie has done and will continue to do well. To paraphrase one reviewer, this film basically attempts to condense The Beatles and the American 60s down to film size for the cell-phone-ring-tone generation - and they are eating it up. Now I must forever endure spotting this movie on lists of personal favorites written by quasi-sophisticates**, or hearing people say things like, "I love The Beatles! Have you seen Across the Universe?!"

Yes, I have. It really wasn't that great.

* If it is not painfully obvious to the reader, I am Christian. If this example makes no sense to you, consider a radio DJ making a terrible segue into a new song by reciting some obvious permutation of the lyrics.

** Please note that it is not the inclusion of this movie on a list that makes someone a quasi-sophisticate. Rather, it is the writing of the list. Nobody cares what your favorite movies are, unless they're trying to have sex with you. Comparing favorite movies is as useless a measure of compatibility as comparing favorite brand names, therefore creating such a list is useless.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

My sister-in-law has been using my bike to get to and from work at Taco Johns.

Today the bike was stolen while she was working. She looked out one moment and a drunkard was sitting next to it trying to smoke a cigarette. She looked out a little while later and the bike was gone.

In a panic, she called Jewell. Jewell took off on her bike to check the path running behind Taco Johns, while I took off in the Audi to check along Gateway Drive. On my way, I called the Grand Forks Police Department to report a stolen bicycle and to give a description of it. While I was on the phone, I passed the guy who had taken it! He was sitting in the parking lot of a store on Gateway Drive, trying to fix the derailer!

I quickly turned in by the parking lot, informing the woman at the police department where I was. I gave a description of the man (mid to late 40s, black baseball hat, gray jacket). She asked me to remain in the car until officers arrived, and within seconds three squad cars arrived to deal with him.

An officer walked over to my car and briefly chatted with me, confirming I was the caller and owner of the bike. He asked me what I wanted them to do with the guy. I told them I didn't want to ask for anything they didn't want to do, so he suggested I just request they arrest him, "process" him, and release him. Sounded fine to me! But why were they asking me what they should do?

The officer proceeded to pull out a form labeled "Grand Forks Police Department: Citizen's Arrest". Now I got it! I could have chosen to let the guy go, I guess... But far be it from me to tell an officer how to do his job!

The officer needed my personal information, as well as a signature confirming I had "apprehended" the man in question. I was then asked to go with another officer to complete a statement in his car. Exhilarating! I wrote out the sequence of events (phone call, headed out in car, spotted man with bicycle, etc.), then signed and dated it.

That was it! I sent a guy "downtown" today. I can't say it felt totally awesome, but it sure was exciting. The guy looked out at me from the back of a squad car with big, stupid, intoxicated puppy dog eyes. I stared him down butt-good with my furrowed brow of disapproval. It was great.

Some additional details came out before the officers took off:
  1. They'd picked the same guy up yesterday for stealing another bicycle
  2. He was drunk, and had a bag containing more booze
  3. He told the officers I had asked him to fix my bike (ha!)
  4. One of the officers had confronted him only 15 minutes prior - sans bicycle!
It seems that a good reason to steal a bike would be to get somewhere faster, so if the bike breaks it doesn't seem intelligent to sit down to attempt to fix it. It seems more reasonable to trash it and keep moving.

Dusty summed it up best: "What a dumbass!"

Sunday, June 29, 2008

At a critical point in my thought life, a man with whom I attended the same church campaigned for a local government office. This came at the time I had finally accepted it was simply impossible to be a rung in the political hierarchy and also be subject to Jesus the Christ alone.

I wonder if anyone had the heart to tell him it must not have been "God's will" when he lost. I would never have been able to, as I'm sure a slip of the Freudian persuasion would be more likely:

"Aren't Christians supposed to seek God's will beforehand as opposed to observing it afterwards?"


I am rereading Jacques Ellul's Anarchy and Christianity for the third time, but it feels like the first time. It has been a great help to read it on paper rather than on the computer screen. It is engrossing. It makes me desire to pour over the Christian and Hebrew scriptures for hours on end.

I found someone in the Netherlands who had an old interview with Jacques Ellul on DVD. They sent a copy to me in the mail free of charge.

Upon a first viewing I am most drawn in by his proposition that, in the technological society, reflection has been usurped by reflex. But do we want to risk finding ourselves far along the wrong road or guarantee only a short distance of travel down the right one?

Right now my mind is boiling over with new thoughts and ideas. I'm reading poetry. I'm reading prose. I'm looking and seeing. I'm listening and hearing.

I have found the Pole Star of my thought.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Living alone was one of the most enlightening periods of my life. I became aware of myself in a way that is not possible when living with others. It wasn't simply a matter of learning how to take care of myself; it was much more.

You see, when you live alone you have nobody to blame when there is a mess.
If the dishes are dirty, then you didn't wash them.
If the door wasn't locked when you came home, then you forgot to lock it.
If there's a stain on the carpet, then you spilled something.
If the trash is full, then you filled it.
If the roll of toilet paper is empty, then you neglected to replace it.
If the stereo was left on, then you forgot to turn it off.
If the car is out of fuel, then you used it all.
If there is nothing to eat, then you ate all the food.
If the toilet hasn't been flushed, then you didn't flush it.
If the lid is up, then you didn't put it down.
If the plants die, then you didn't water them.
If something is missing, then you lost it.

I could go on all day like this, but you likely see the pattern.

When you live alone, you become acutely aware of how terrible a roommate you are. If you never live alone, you could live the rest of your life under the delusion that nobody takes note of the little things.

The curse is that once you live with others again, you are better able to spot anything out of place. You remember the condition you left things in so well, that anyone else's mucking about with things is immediately evident.

Usually when Linnea is gone for more than a day, I'll do a little cleaning. I've come to think this is because I believe, subconsciously, that everything is messy because of me. I know this isn't true, but it is much more difficult to point the finger when there is nobody to point at.

Friday, June 20, 2008

I decided to take my Google Android RSS craving one step further today. Instead of just pulling a feed from YouTube, I've used Yahoo Pipes to create a "Google Android News Feed" drawing from the Google Android Developers' Blog, Gizmodo, YouTube, and Engadget as sources.

The end result is accessible from this page, and the resulting RSS feed can be added quite easily to Google Reader.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Every so often I visit YouTube looking for new videos related to Google's Android operating system for mobile phones. In a moment of brilliance I realized there is likely some way to turn my search into an RSS feed, which would allow me to view the search results in Google Reader as new videos go online.

The RSS page link for YouTube directs to this page, which provides information on accessing feeds for a specific user or tag. However, it fails to note that you can use more than one tag in the creation of an RSS feed.

The example from the above link shows that in order to create an RSS feed for the tag 'monkey', the link would be 'feed://www.youtube.com/rss/tag/monkey.rss'. What the information page doesn't tell you is that for more than one tag, the link is modified to be something like 'feed://www.youtube.com/rss/tag/tag1+tag2+...+tagN.rss'. Tags can be single words only.

The search feed I am using for Google Android videos is 'feed://www.youtube.com/rss/tag/google+android.rss'.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thanks to the wonders of Linux, it has never been a difficult matter for me to download MP3s from MySpace which were not explicitly provided for download. Now you can circumvent listen-protection, as well!

http://file2hd.com

This link also works for downloading videos from Youtube and such.

Monday, June 09, 2008

If we simply add up the numbers from the prior post we find there are 2,206,800 pro-Obama results and 1,059,067 pro-Mccain results.

There are alternate explanations for results being skewed, however. Obama may have a larger Internet presence than John Mccain, and the extent of his presence may be tied to the prolonged race for the Democratic Party's nomination. Additionally, Hillary Clinton's loss may have resulted in pro-Mccain or anti-Obama backlash.

However, it is worth noting that if the size of Obama's Internet presence is tied to the prolonged race, Hillary's presence would likely be of a similar size. A quick set of searches gives us the following results:

"clinton for president": 543,000
"will vote for clinton": 46,700
"will vote for hillary clinton": 11,200

The 600,900:2,141,000 Clinton/Obama ratio for these three search terms seems to indicate otherwise. Even Ron Paul has better search stats than Hillary Clinton. It is more likely that Obama appeals to a significantly higher amount of Internet users than Mccain.

Hillary Clinton's Internet/Reality ratio (percentage of search results to percentage of official primary popular votes) is something in the neighborhood of 22/48, whereas Obama's Internet/Reality ratio is more like 78/48. This basically means Clinton's online presence is/was ~50% what her real-world presence is/was, and that Obama's online presence is ~170% what his real-world presence is/was.

Given current polls (as of 6/9/2008), Obama is leading Mccain 47 points to 45 points. This would mean Mccain's Internet/Reality ratio is something like 32/45 if polling is an accurate portrayal of public opinion. This would also place Obama's Internet/Reality ratio at 68/47. Current polling would suggest that pro-Mccain backlash from the Hillary Clinton camp is not very significant.

RealClearPolitics.com has collected statistical data which suggests Internet users favor Obama over Mccain 62.9:35.4.

Now here's the stretch. I will assume RealClearPolitics.com has done limited polling, and assume the search result data to be representative of wider polling. I will also assume current non-Internet polling is limited. Now we can extrapolate what wider non-Internet polling might look like.

Obama
62.9/47 = 68/(?)

Mccain
35.4/45 = 32/(?)

The results would indicate an Obama win of 50.8 points to 40.7 points in the general election.

Now, I'm no statistician. I'm also prone to overlooking very significant details. Don't take any of this as authoritative, as I'm likely to be wrong. But you have to admit... It would be really cool if I'm right.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Quick non-scientific follow-up:

Search results (possibly) favoring Obama:
"obama for president": 1,970,000
"will vote for obama": 153,000
"will vote for barack obama": 18,000
"will not vote for mccain": 24,900
"will not vote for john mccain": 40,900

Search results (possibly) favoring Mccain:
"mccain for president": 367,000
"will vote for mccain": 207,000
"will vote for john mccain": 43,200
"will not vote for obama": 441,000
"will not vote for barack obama": 867

Simple statistical analysis to follow...

Thursday, June 05, 2008

This is not a scientific measure of popular opinion, but I think it is worth noting:

Search results favoring Obama:
"when (barack|obama) (is|becomes) president": 19,700
"when barack obama (is|becomes) president": 1,919
"when (barack|obama) is elected president": 7,490
"when barack obama is elected president": 338
Total: 29,447

Search results favoring McCain:
"when (john|mccain) (is|becomes) president": 416
"when john mccain (is|becomes) president": 274
"when (john|mccain) is elected president": 37
"when john mccain is elected president": 357
Total: 1,084

There are some other searches of interest, but these are the only I completed this evening. Looks like either not many people who support McCain are savvy enough to do it online, or possibly they really don't think it likely he'll be elected.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

In the field of computer science Donald Knuth is highly respected.

Until recently I had been keenly unaware of his profession of Christianity. He gave a series of lectures titled God and Computers: Things a Computer Scientist Rarely Talks About, which was eventually compiled and published as a single book. Much time is spent expounding upon the things he learned - both as a Christian and as a computer scientist - while authoring another book, 3:16.

Recordings of the lecture series had originally been available through TechNetCast, but that archive has fallen into terrible disrepair. Much searching brought me to contact a stranger who had posted to his blog that he had kept these recordings. He replied the same day with a link to a "fake" RSS feed he had set up for the lecture series. You can find those recordings here. Be aware this is more than 10 hours worth of audio.

If the above link no longer works for you, e-mail me for copies of these recordings.

Friday, May 16, 2008

I've added a small (and inexpensive) project to my list: restoring a small 70s guitar amplifier. The amp in question is a Marlboro Sound Works GA2.

I've gone over all the electronics and it looks like I may need to replace a few components, but nothing major. The total cost for replacement components should be no more than $10.

The short list of things to be done:
  1. replace fuse: 120/250VAC @ >~77mA & holder (?)
  2. clean potentiometers
  3. new power cable, grounded this time
  4. transistors are suspect. maybe replace?
  5. capacitance test, replace leaky capacitors
  6. replace bad resistors
  7. replace power toggle
The whole operation should go fairly quick. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I'd like to call this post "How 1and1 Shot From the Top of My List to the Bottom", but I think I'll stick with a simpler, more raw "Why 1and1 Sucks."

I have an account with the hosting provider 1and1 communications. That account contains two packages. Both packages are billed using the same credit card information.

Some time in December of 2007, my credit card was no longer able to physically scan through machines. I stopped by the bank and requested a new one. The old one was immediately canceled. When the new one arrived in the mail several days later, I scrambled to update accounts online which depended upon it.

I missed one account: 1and1. My credit card was declined that billing cycle, and I received an e-mail notice about it. I immediately logged into my 1and1 account and updated my credit card information, assuring myself that every website doing business online has a system in place to retry credit card information.

Not the case with 1and1. After several months of only one of my packages working properly and the other registering as "locked", I finally gave 1and1 a call.

My account had been sent to collections. In December. They assured me it wasn't a limitation of their system, but rather that I must not have been able to foot the bill. I pointed out that my other package worked just dandy, so they were very much mistaken.

1and1 customer service is an oxymoron. There simply is no such thing. Don't bother with 1and1, get your hosting elsewhere. Heck, even people in India are considerate, and probably less likely to send an account to collections just because a credit card failed to process on one single attempt.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Those whom have known me long are well aware of my distaste for Apple's branding efforts. One of their successes over the years has been creating an artificial rift between "Macs" and "PCs".

Now, if there are only two options and a "personal computer" is one of them, what is the alternative?

That would be either an "impersonal computer" or perhaps a "community computer", but somehow Apple has succeeded in convincing many throughout the world to respond with, "Well, duh, it's a MAC!"

Every single time I hear someone draw a distinction between the two - especially someone from the technologically elite - I want to murder innocent children. More specifically, I want to murder their innocent children, so as to prevent a legacy of idiocy from taking root.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

When you get right down to it, telling someone to "stop talking" is just another way of saying "shut up."

In the mind of the one speaking those words they evidently don't mean the same thing. "Shut up" is one of those phrases which is never to be uttered. It's like the hypocrites who denounce "swearing" yet still "shoot-cuss."

Crap, darn, shoot, dag-nabbit... Stop talking, you son of a gun!

Monday, April 07, 2008

I have been inspired lately to record what I can with the few resources I have and to not worry about the quality of the final product. What I'm coming to realize is that it is entirely possible to make great recordings with my low-budget resources so long as I thoroughly understand and can apply the fundamental ideas.

This video is another example that further supports this notion. While it is so much simpler to have nice gear, most of the time it doesn't make much of a difference.

Friday, March 28, 2008

If you have not yet done so, visit the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party website to request your free ticket to Barack Obama's speech at the Alerus in Grand Forks, ND on April 4th.

Even those who do not support him can agree he is an amazing public speaker, and as such this will be a significant event.

If I had a spare $100, I'd be signing up for the reception with Barack Obama earlier in the day. I would much rather see a realistic presidential hopeful with a smaller audience.

I am almost done with the book "Assassination Vacation" by Sarah Vowell, and one of the things which has struck me the most is how candidates in years gone by viewed the campaign "trail" as a cheap, insincere tactic. Candidates in the 1800s would literally open their homes to anyone who desired to meet them. How things have changed...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Straw Man

I have re-written this post several times now, and this is what I will leave:

Modern Christian movements seem to be steeped in the notion that Christians, in general, are not doing what Jesus would opt to do. The general problem I foresee with this notion lies within the assumption we know what Jesus would opt to do. Time after time it is demonstrated that even those immediately in Jesus' vicinity had no idea what he would do. Even his own disciples. And so he would take an opportunity here and there to expound upon the topic of the Kingdom of Heaven.

When we talk about living more like Jesus or living more like the early church, I see a tendency to avoid discussion about fasting and being tempted in the desert, healing the sick, spreading the good news in public forum, caring for orphans and widows, not having a place to lay our heads, raising the dead, praying until we bleed, barging into houses of worship and flipping over merchandise tables, having everything in common, etc.

Well, some of the time there is talk of having everything in common - which is mostly good. However, even after coupling that with growing organic food, making your own clothing, reducing your carbon footprint, DIY ethic, and any other lifestyle choices which can be dreamt up and just as easily lived by non-Christians, you still come up a hair short of resembling Jesus or the early church. So you are a hippie. So what? I'm much more interested in being Christian.

Perhaps we get in the pattern of thinking that if X, Y, and Z were as such, then A, B, and C would be different or better. What I am getting at is the notion that if we pursue certain lifestyles, we will naturally grow closer to God. I really think this is bad logic, as we are plainly told what to seek first, upon which all other things will be added. Said seeking can be accomplished in the present. No modifications to circumstance necessary.

I have been speaking with a friend about diets and workout regimes, and how there is so much conflicting information. Something works for one group of people, but not for another. Something that seems inherently unhealthy may yield surprising results, and some healthy-sounding plans may have disastrous effects.

This seems analogous to the modern church. Each new movement has a plan to fast-track you to spiritual success, and this time they're totally way more Christian (and "with the times") than the other guys! But as sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, it won't work for everyone. And with the same surety, a new plan will arrive and people will flock to it.

I propose to you there is something guaranteed to work for everyone, without exception. I assure you it isn't a "movement". It's kind of old-hat, really. It's no secret, but I will admit that, despite being readily available within the contents of a world-wide best-seller, it gets ignored from time to time - even by me. Oh yeah, and it isn't always easy.

P.S. - With 2008 being an election year and all, it seems appropriate to ask, "For whom would Jesus vote?" I would note there is a foregone conclusion that Jesus would vote at all. While much of Christianity is busy asking the former, I challenge you to think on the latter. I challenge you to consider what kind of government Jesus might endorse and why. I challenge you to consider the kind of person Jesus might look for as a leader.

P.P.S. - When the vote season comes around, I challenge those of you who subscribe to Moral Government Theory to exhibit your trust in God's ability to place his candidate in power by simply not voting. For those of you who do not subscribe to MGT, I challenge you to post (or e-mail me) as many scriptural refutations to the theory as you can come up with as a fun exercise in God's politics.

P.P.P.S. - Get my attention by reading Jacques Ellul's "The Politics of God and the Politics of Man" & "Anarchy and Christianity" and e-mailing me your impressions. Extra credit if you can read them in French. I sure can't.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

My computer has locked up several more times since I replaced the aging copper tape inside the case. Granted, it is locking up far less frequently and under seemingly more random circumstances.

I ran MemTest86+ and have concluded my RAM is bad. I have tested four RAM modules, and only the two I was using failed any tests. In fact, they failed the tests so badly that MemTest86+ locked up as a result. That should be a Big Red Flag (TM).

Now the question is whether I would like to replace the memory and hope nothing else is wrong or give up and get a new laptop. It all depends on the prices for old memory.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I seem to have solved my Linux lock-up issue, which turned out to not be a Linux issue at all. As the story goes, the acrylic adhesive used on copper tape goes bad over time. This resulted in the grounding strips in my laptop no longer doing what they should. As a result, static electricity would build up at some point on the system board and *poof* all of my unsaved work would vanish.

I bought a new roll of conductive copper tape (36 yards!) and used about 5-7 inches of it to replace the grounding strips. I went ahead and created some new ones, as well. As such, my computer has not locked up at all since. Maybe this computer will last me a full ten years after all!

Now, what to do with all this shiny copper tape...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

It is hard to believe I have been on Blogger since November 2001. Just over six years. Two ninths of my life. What a nerd I am.

Top 10 things I will likely never tell you in person:
  1. At the end of January in 2003, I cried almost the entire drive home from Lakeside, Montana. That was nearly a 17 hour drive.
  2. I went back out to visit that November, and cried almost all the way there. The return trip was more of the same.
  3. I peed my pants during a class party in 3rd grade. My teacher realized what had happened and told the other students I had spilled my pop.
  4. I peed my pants after a Sevendust concert in Duluth when I was 19. I had been drinking huge glasses of water the entire show to stay hydrated, and neglected to take this into account when I stepped outside into freezing cold weather wearing shants and a hoodie.
  5. I have only been in one fistfight - in 4th grade, and I still am unclear as to who won. A person I had thought was my friend punched me repeatedly in the gut until I punched him twice in the face. I was never angry at him for punching me, but to this day I feel bad for punching him.
  6. In 2nd grade we were placed into reading groups based upon a reading comprehension test. When I was placed in the smallest group, I thought I and the others must be dumb. When I found out we were the five smartest kids in our grade, I felt worse.
  7. I often cried myself to sleep during high school because of how a handful of students treated me for having a terrible overbite. It was the most drastic overbite my orthodontist had ever seen. I am having the final remnants of my orthodontic work removed in the coming weeks.
  8. I used to invite friends to church, but stopped after my pastor gave a sermon titled "I want to be like Phil." I have never been good at accepting complements or commendation.
  9. When I got my first piercing, it was for a specific reason. My next two were for fun. Their removal was intentional, not consequential, but I miss them to this very day. I would have at least one more if I had not married.
  10. I "lettered" in Speech five times. I had the jacket, but felt too self-conscious to wear it. I know I am a good public speaker, but I have never felt like I have something worth saying.
Thus ends my self-disclosure. Realize that you have just combed through details which some of my closest friends do not even know.

So are they secrets? Possibly. Perhaps at some unconscious level I have desired to keep them secret, but at a conscious level it does not bother me to list them for anyone to read. Maybe there is something to the allure of anonymity the Internet provides, but let us be honest: I know at least a handful of people who read this. I am not just dumping water into the sea.

I vaguely remember a quote about how when others know us, we know ourselves better. To some degree I concur.

As for intentional secrets, I do keep a few. Not for much longer, though.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

It has just come to my attention that Fidel Castro was 27 when he headed his first attempted revolution against Batista. More importantly, Castro pursued legal means to oust the corrupt Batista before turning to a violent overthrow. It was six more years until he rose to power.

Mayhaps I am still able to do useful things at this age.
Fidel Castro has officially retired. Farewell, good man. I hope to visit Cuba before his death. Will his successor(s) destroy Cuba much as Kim Jong-Il has done with North Korea following the death of his father, Kim Il-Sung? Find out in the next episode!

If you can name the following lyric without the aid of Google, you earn several nerd points:

in the days of the caveman
and mammoths
and glaciers
bugs and trees were your food then
no pajamas
or doctors
Stumped? Okay, you're allowed to Google it.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

I'm not scrambling to find a new place to live for the same reasons I wasn't scrambling to find a new place to live while we were at our last apartment.

However, I would like to note that my wife agreed to allow me to choose the next place of residence when I told her she could make the decision to move last time.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

If you have not yet filed your claim, hop on over to www.ccfsettlement.com.

In my case, I'm estimating 85 days spent out of country during the time period listed. I have no idea how large of a claim this will result in.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Farecast was recently updated with support for select international destinations. Huzzah!

I'm intend to explore the possibility of traveling to London (with friends) to meet Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear fame. It would be totally rad. I suppose being in my ancestors' homeland would be fairly worth it, as well.

Monday, January 28, 2008

This is my new problem in Linux:

Jan 28 00:16:31 othniel kernel: [ 144.320000] usb 1-1: new full speed USB device using uhci_hcd and address 2
Jan 28 00:16:31 othniel kernel: [ 144.488000] usb 1-1: configuration #1 chosen from 1 choice
Jan 28 00:16:31 othniel kernel: [ 144.784000] usbcore: registered new interface driver libusual
Jan 28 00:16:31 othniel kernel: [ 144.876000] Initializing USB Mass Storage driver...
Jan 28 00:16:31 othniel kernel: [ 144.876000] scsi0 : SCSI emulation for USB Mass Storage devices
Jan 28 00:16:31 othniel kernel: [ 144.876000] usbcore: registered new interface driver usb-storage
Jan 28 00:16:31 othniel kernel: [ 144.876000] USB Mass Storage support registered.
Jan 28 00:16:36 othniel kernel: [ 149.880000] scsi 0:0:0:0: Direct-Access USB 2.0 Flash Disk 1100 PQ: 0 ANSI: 0 CCS
Jan 28 00:16:36 othniel kernel: [ 149.968000] sd 0:0:0:0: [sda] 3962880 512-byte hardware sectors (2029 MB)
Jan 28 00:16:36 othniel kernel: [ 149.972000] sd 0:0:0:0: [sda] Write Protect is off
Jan 28 00:16:36 othniel kernel: [ 149.984000] sd 0:0:0:0: [sda] 3962880 512-byte hardware sectors (2029 MB)
Jan 28 00:16:36 othniel kernel: [ 149.984000] sd 0:0:0:0: [sda] Write Protect is off
Jan 28 00:16:36 othniel kernel: [ 149.984000] sda: sda1
Jan 28 00:16:36 othniel kernel: [ 150.060000] sd 0:0:0:0: [sda] Attached SCSI removable disk
Jan 28 00:18:33 othniel syslogd 1.4.1#21ubuntu3: restart.
Basically, my computer is physically locking up when I attach certain USB devices. Hard locks are not common within Linux, especially when the hard lock disables even magic keys (Alt-SysRq, R, E, I, S, U, B).

I could be having a hardware problem. We'll see what I can find!