Sunday, April 27, 2003

Advogato Entry 303

I think I'm going to move my diary to a Movable Type system on my own website. Too much of what I want to say is not open-source related or anything. Does anyone know of a converter for translating Advogato XML data into the Movable Type format appropriate for importing? I suppose I'll have to hunt for something to do that..

The Daily Show Rocks!

The Daily Show has been getting some news coverage lately. This is probably partially due to the fact that Jon Stewart just signed a new contract. Also, Comedy Central is now under the full control of Viacom, while it had previously been owned 50/50 by Viacom and AOL Time Warner. This was mentioned by Jon Stewart himself a few days ago during the opening segment. Personally, I think I'd be happier with Time Warner owning Comedy Central than Viacom. Viacom owns a crapload of stuff (just visit their site to see), and I don't really want to see Comedy Central turning into another MTV-esque outlet (though I suppose they are already partway there).

On the positive side, the show is being seen by many people as a better news source than CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News Channel. An article I found via the Miami Herald shows war criticism can be taken seriously. Another piece from The Nation explains how the show goes for more than just cheap laughs.

Additionally, I found out that I'm not the only Daily Show fan ;-) Lisa Rein has an archive of Daily Show clips that are pretty amusing.

Codecs and Transports and Players, Oh My!

Over the last few days, I've been playing around with the mencoder video encoder from MPlayer. Mostly, I've been monkeying with options and trying to find the best ways to encode MPEG4 video using the libavcodec codecs.

Last night, I downloaded the final trailer for The Matrix Reloaded, and discovered that my computer (a 1.3GHz Athlon) wasn't fast enough to play the movie. This is probably due to the fact that there are no Linux-native players for QuickTime (at least, none for the Sorenson codecs that Apple uses these days). I can play the files under Linux because some smart programmers use some trickery to load software library files (DLLs and other paraphernelia) ordinarily used for Windows in a way that they can be used in Linux.

Since my computer wasn't fast enough to pull that trick, I re-encoded the file, and then played it. It probably took me about half an hour to get it right, but when I did, the image quality was pretty impressive. The Sorenson codecs appear to sharpen images a little bit, so the image seemed slightly fuzzier when I re-encoded it, but not much. I think if I had the same source material to encode in the first place, the free codec I used would probably compare pretty well with the commercial software used to encode the trailer I downloaded.

The video file has a resolution of 1000x540 (a previous teaser trailer had a resolution of 1024x464, which is actually considerably smaller). The original file had a compressed video bitrate of about 5 megabits/second, and I tried to do a fair comparison, so my encodings were done to the same bitrate. I got a bit frustrated at times, since I was encoding a video that had already been compressed. I could see there were compression artifacts, but it was hard to tell how much was there from the original encoding, and how much was from my second pass.

Anyway, it seemed to me that the codecs are very comparable. It might be good to run a sharpening filter on output from the MPEG4 codec, just to get some edges highlighted, but it's probably hard to do that right. Also, (for me at least), the MPEG4 codec needed much less CPU power.

Posted by mike at 04:38 PM | Movies , Software | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Other Movable Type Sites

Whilst analyzing errors by viewing web server logs, I came across another Movable Type-powered site on this server. Say Hi to Steve Gigl.

Posted by mike at 10:36 PM | Internet | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Monday, April 28, 2003

Converting

I'm probably going to spend a while tomorrow (tomorrow doesn't begin until 3 AM, remember? ;-) looking for or building a tool to convert my Advogato diary to a format that I can import on my new website. amars posted an entry with a link to a program that can at least parse the Advogato XML format. It probably won't be too hard to get it to generate the output Movable Type needs.

Posted by mike at 01:44 AM | Software | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Converting (cont'd)

Well, instead of going to sleep like I should have, I stayed up late and worked on a small perl script to convert my Advogato diary entries into a format that Movable Type can handle. It's a puny script less than 40 lines long, but it worked well enough for me. I'll probably spend time fixing up the screwy output that it created for some things, but it's mostly okay.

Aftermath

Well, I've managed to tweak a good portion of the entries I uploaded. For some reason, Movable Type doesn't appear to have an option on import for disabling converting carriage-returns to line breaks. I had to go through and do that manually. What a pain. Also, the import script has a bug where if you have an entry with 8 or more dashes in a row in it, the parser will jump to the next entry. The parser should be more strict and only go to the next entry when it sees something that is exactly 8 dashes and a linefeed, rather than just looking for 8 dashes.

Anyway, I had to fix two entries because of that.

I'll probably go through in my spare time and categorize many of my past entries, and perhaps give them more appropriate titles. I noticed one odd thing: I tried to number some of my early entries on Advogato, and the numbers are off by one. I don't really know why that is. Iit's one in my favor, though -- doesn't look like I'm missing anything. It's possible that the Advogato site causes the first entry to be "hidden" after a while..

Signs of the End Times

Hmm. The world might end soon -- I've got a Christina Aguilera song stuck in my head, and I don't really mind. We were listening to "Fighter" in the car on our way to Little T's, and Kari and Erin got into a discussion of how the video for that song is worse than the "Making-Of" show for the video. This is kind of interesting. I've been noticing that meta-entertainment (entertainment about entertainment: trailers, promo shows, etc) is often better than the entertainment it's linked to. For example, if you had the people who made the trailer for Adam Sandler's movie Anger Management do the movie itself, it probably would have been much better.

I just hope this doesn't apply to The Matrix sequels.

Posted by mike at 11:19 AM | Erin , Kari , Movies , Music , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Junk Mail

Hmm. SpamAssassin doesn't seem to be working very well for me anymore. It doesn't seem to catch as many messages. However, it looks like it has changed behavior and doesn't put the "*****SPAM*****" string in the subject line now, so it is harder to tell how effective it is by just glancing at the subject lines in my junk mail folder. I guess I'll have to use a different way of tagging them..

Posted by mike at 06:16 PM | Internet | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Categorizing

Well, I've pretty much categorized all of my entries from September 11th, 2001 onward. I was just making a Sept. 11 category, but I kept running into other messages that needed to be categorized, and I did a little over a hundred of them. I still have to do a good pass through the approximately 190 messages that are before that day.

I think the events of that day have had repercussions that have made me less interested in posting to Advogato. Since I now have all of my stuff on my own website, I can write whatever I want, and I don't have to bend to fit the technology and open-source orientation of another site. I can say "Bush is an idiot" as often as I want ;-)

Neighbors, of Varying Quality

Ugh. Upstairs neighbors playing those same two songs over and over. I thought I'd lived next to some people with pretty thin musical tastes before, but these guys go a step beyond. At least they usually aren't as loud as the guys who were below us at the place on 6th St. Still, if I have to hear those songs any more..

Homer: No TV and no beer make Homer something something
Marge: Go crazy?
Homer: Don't mind if I do!

Anyway, I put out some ant traps the other day, and they seem to be helping. I haven't seen any ants for the last day or so, but maybe I just haven't been paying enough attention.

Posted by mike at 11:11 PM | Abode | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Firewall Fun

I was just looking over at Soekris at their various products. Someday, probably after I get a job again, I suspect I'll plop down some change for a net4521, along with at least one 802.11 card from NetGate or Demarc. I'll need to get a CompactFlash card or a Microdrive too. Also, it might be fun to play with the vpn1211 hardware encryption board. Somehow, I don't think a 133MHz 486 would handle IPSec very well ;-)

Anyway, one nice upside to getting those things would be that I get rid of the big power-hungry computer that is currently routing my Internet traffic. The problems are that it's expensive to get those parts, and I'll lose my print server in the process (of course, it's dumb to have your firewall double as a print server, but I live dangerously. Sometimes. ;-)

The $7.50 Questions

Wil Wheaton posted a wacky entry about a Democratic National Committee survey he received in the mail. Go and take a look, it's got a pretty awesome punchline. Yes, it's funny because it's true.

Wil also mentioned that he think's the nation's gun laws go too far, which I agree with sometimes. One big thing that sticks out in my mind is that we have the Second Amendment, then a bunch of laws contradicting it. I think it's a good idea to avoid letting mentally unstable people own/use guns, though it's hard to draw a line between a normal person and an "unstable" one. People with criminal histories should probably be watched more as well. Anyway, I guess that's not why I'm writing this entry.

He also mentioned that he'd vote for Howard Dean if the election was held today. I don't know much about him, so I'll have to look. I was very impressed with a speech I saw Dennis Kucinich give on C-SPAN one day. He was very Wellstone-esque, which might explain why I liked the speech.

Friends' Blogs

Found the LiveJournal sites for a couple of friends: Kari, Erin, and Spike. Erin was complaining about her user ID, since she uses it everywhere, and it apparently makes people think she's a guy. I'm glad she used it for LiveJournal, though -- that's the only way I could find anyone..

I'm usually not up this late. Not having a job and mucking with my new website too much is screwing up my sleep cycle. Well, and the fact that I use MythTV too much to record and watch TV shows up the yin-yang. I'm learning to just delete things. I don't need to see every episode of A Makeover Story ;-)

I think I still have the new Simpsons episode from this weekend on my machine if anyone wants to watch it, though I'm not sure how to move the file around or play it on any machines other than my own..

The wonders of technology.

Update: Hahaha... It's 3:26!!!

Posted by mike at 03:26 AM | Erin , Kari , MythTV , Spike , TV | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Blogtastic

Well. My Brother is also on LiveJournal. I thought he was posting entries to other places..

Heh. One of his images is of his TRS-80 Model 100.

Posted by mike at 06:48 AM | Family , Hardware | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Funny Money

Just wrote a rent check for $577.05. That's $600 minus the $22.95 I paid for cable last month. I didn't bother trying to figure out how to deduct next months cable bill, since there isn't a nice way to add up the line-items that specifically relate to my cable TV versus my cable modem. The building management is only "paying" for cable TV.

I'll probably just take off $20 next month, and forget about the taxes..

Dad reminded me that Mother's Day is coming up May 11th.

Posted by mike at 03:14 PM | Abode , Family | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Candidate This!

Got a recommendation for voting for Howard Dean in my e-mail today. Apparently he was in St. Paul over the weekend and drew a decent crowd. Garrison Keillor even showed up.

I'd really rather wait a few more months before I start to really get into the 2004 elections. It's not even May 2003 yet! But, I think I might have to get sucked into it a bit early this time around.

Update: Couldn't find any news coverage of this, other than an announcement or two of it. There is an entry here, though..

Update: Found a handy page of 2004 Presidential Candidates, for anyone who's looking.

Getting Back to Normal

Finally exercised again today. I dropped out of my normal cycle sometime last week, so I hadn't done anything for a few days.

I've been trying to exercise for the last five weeks. Mostly just some sit-ups and exercises with dumbbells. I started the day before we found out we had to move out of the old place. In theory, those extra few days of exercising might have made it easier for me to move stuff, but I don't know. At any rate, my forearms don't quite look like twigs anymore, but I figure I'd better keep going as long as I can. It was really improving my confidence level a few weeks ago, which is always something I need help with..

Did some dishes a few minutes ago. Now I need to tackle some laundry soon.

Posted by mike at 07:48 PM | Abode , Exercise | Comments (0) | TrackBack

To-Do

Just categorized stuff from July 2000. I'd better do another month or two tomorrow, but I don't want to do it tonight and stay up all night again.

Movable Type generates a lot of files, so I need to free up some disk space on my web account space. I would like to keep my old files, though, so I'll have to find a good web-accessible spot to archive them..

My mom told me about a CPC Job Fair tomorrow 10 AM to 4 PM at Southdale. I should go, if only to get a change of scenery. I guess I'll have to manage to dig out some resumes to bring along.

Watching Crap

I think my mom had mentioned something about the show Watching Ellie coming back, and possibly being better than what it was before, so I set my computer to record it. I've seen two episodes, one from today and one from last week, but neither was very good. The only real positive to the show is the presence of Steve Carell as Edgar, who is so good at insincere sincerity that he can make anything funny. Those years working on The Daily Show must have paid off.

On the subject of TV shows, I keep wondering if Good Morning, Miami is going to get canceled. NBC keeps dropping it off the schedule for weeks at a time, but it keeps coming back. Apparently, it's considered a "[b]ona fide new hit" and will likely stay on the air. I like the show, but it has a story line that can't help but get tiring quickly. They reworked it after the first few episodes, getting rid of the nun (good), and the only latina on the show (bad). A show about Miami without any Cubans in it.. Sheesh.

Ooo! I think it's awesome that The Real Cancun bombed over the weekend. It opened at number 10. Screw you, MTV.

Posted by mike at 10:08 PM | Daily Show , Movies , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Not Explicit Enough

Okay, so there's this feature of TCP/IP called Explicit Congestion Notification (ECN). It's been part of the standard for a few years now. The problem is, there are still a lot of routers and servers out there (mostly just routers, though, if people know what's good for them) that don't understand it. If you turn on ECN, suddenly some sites on the Internet become inaccessible. This isn't supposed to happen.

TCP ECN uses a field in the TCP header that had previously been defined as "reserved". This means that you should ignore the field. However, many programmers thought this meant the field should always be set to zero. So, many routers just discard ECN-enabled packets.

I was having trouble seeing any pictures hosted from photoisland.com on Kari's LiveJournal page because of this, so I had to execute the command (on Linux):

echo 0 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/tcp_ecn
Posted by mike at 10:23 AM | Internet , Kari | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ain't Got None

If you ain't got no lovin' in Alabama, you ain't gettin' no lovin' at all

Wonder if the Sunday Night Sex Show is legal there ;-)

Alabama Votes Against Legalizing Sex Toys Wed Apr 30, 4:42 AM ET

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Sex toys are still against the law in Alabama, at least as far as the Alabama Legislature is concerned.

The Alabama House voted against a bill Tuesday that would have removed a ban on sexual devices, such as vibrators, from the state's obscenity law. The ban on sexual devices was added at the last minute when the obscenity law passed the Legislature in 1998.

A federal district judge in Birmingham has twice ruled that the ban is unconstitutional. The first ruling was overturned by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and the second ruling has been appealed to the appeals court.

The sponsor of the bill, Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham, said because of the court ruling, the obscenity law is unenforceable as long as it contains the ban on sex toys.

"All this does is make our obscenity law constitutional," Rogers said.

With little serious discussion, the House voted 37-28 to leave the sex toys ban in state law, leaving Rogers standing at the microphone shaking his head.

"What you just did is make our obscenity law illegal. You voted for obscenity," Rogers shouted at lawmakers.

Posted by mike at 11:00 AM | Politics | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ray-zu-may

Michael Hicks

email: hick0088@tc.umn.edu


Skills:

  • Operating Systems: Primarily knowledgeable in Linux, but I have had significant experience with Sun Solaris, Microsoft Windows (3.x to current) Linux (Unix), DOS, plus some experience with OS/2 and MacOS

  • Programming Languages: Compiled languages: C/C++, Java, etc. Scripting languages: Perl, PHP, JavaScript, etc. Document formatting languages: HTML, LATEX, etc.

  • Networking: Ethernet networking, Internet Protocol family, DHCP, firewalls, network security.

  • Other: Able to learn new computer technologies quickly. Strong background in troubleshooting.

Experience:

  • Carlson School of Management, Minneapolis, MN
    (Summer 2000-February 2003)

    Primary duties included administration and backup of Linux and Sun Solaris systems. Also helped to build Linux-based firewalls, and assisted in deployment of 802.11b infrastructure.

  • Schmidt Printing, Byron, MN
    (Summers, 1997-1999)

    Assisted in the repair and upgrade of desktop PC systems throughout the company and helped string new Ethernet cabling to expand the company's network infrastructure. Also did some minimal network administration.

  • Byron School District, Byron, MN
    (1997 and earlier)

    Volunteered and helped the school staff set up and maintain desktop PC systems throughout the school discrict.

  • Twin Cities Linux Users Group, Twin Cities area
    (1998-present)

    Through e-mail and monthly meetings, I have collaborated with other Linux users to solve various problems relating to the Linux operating system.

Education:


                              Michael Hicks

                           hick0088@tc.umn.edu

Skills:

     * Operating Systems: Primarily knowledgeable in Linux, but I have
       had significant experience with Sun Solaris, Microsoft Windows
       (3.x to current) Linux (Unix), DOS, plus some experience with OS/2
       and MacOS

     * Programming Languages: Compiled languages: C/C++, Java, etc.
       Scripting languages: Perl, PHP, JavaScript, etc. Document
       formatting languages: HTML, LaTeX, etc.

     * Networking: Ethernet networking, Internet Protocol family, DHCP,
       firewalls, network security.

     * Other: Able to learn new computer technologies quickly. Strong
       background in troubleshooting.

Experience:

     * Carlson School of Management, Minneapolis, MN
       (Summer 2000-February 2003)

       Primary duties included administration and backup of Linux and Sun
       Solaris systems. Also helped to build Linux-based firewalls, and
       assisted in deployment of 802.11b infrastructure.

     * Schmidt Printing, Byron, MN
       (Summers, 1997-1999)

       Assisted in the repair and upgrade of desktop PC systems
       throughout the company and helped string new Ethernet cabling to
       expand the company's network infrastructure. Also did some minimal
       network administration.

     * Byron School District, Byron, MN
       (1997 and earlier)

       Volunteered and helped the school staff set up and maintain
       desktop PC systems throughout the school discrict.

     * Twin Cities Linux Users Group, Twin Cities area
       (1998-present)

       Through e-mail and monthly meetings, I have collaborated with
       other Linux users to solve various problems relating to the Linux
       operating system.

Education:

     * College Education
       University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
       Minneapolis, MN 55455

       Participated in the University of Minnesota Marching Band (1997-2000)
       Graduated December 2002
       Received B.S. Computer Science

     * Secondary Education
       Byron High School
       Byron MN, 55920

       Participated in Band, Math Team and Computer Club
       Graduated 1997
Posted by mike at 12:07 PM | Work | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Playboy

I just want to get my face out there to somebody, she said.

Heh.. Yeah, I'm sure they'll remember the face..

Posted by mike at 02:07 PM | School | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I Didn't Do It

Heh. Looks like the most popular thing on my website is this image:

That's from a paper for one of my classes that I wrote with some others, and I guess it's one of only a small number of sources for those covers.

Posted by mike at 04:17 PM | School | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Drive Time

I went to the CPC Job Fair today. Not much to speak of. There were more people there from schools and other self-improvement places than from businesses looking to hire.

I got a Mother's Day card for my mom. I was glad to find one quickly, as I was really tired by then. The lady who checked me out at Hallmark asked if it was raining out or sunny, but I honestly usually don't pay much attention to the weather. I knew it wasn't raining when I came down, but it started just as I left the mall.

I took the Crosstown (Highway 62) there and back, which is a pretty scary road at points. Fortunately, it seems to be a smoother surface than it looks, but it's probably a lot more twisty than a road carrying that much traffic should be.

On my way back, I actually heard a Phish song come on the radio. I was listening to Drive 105, the station that I think plays the best music in the Cities. Unfortunately, they still play a lot of stuff I don't like and their transmitters in the area aren't very powerful, so I have to switch between them, Cities 97, KS95, and some other stations. I usually don't like 93X, though I always tried to listen to it back when it was The Edge, but that was over five years ago.

Oo! Looks like edge937.com is an available domain name now. Last I checked, KQRS still owned it.

My car seemed to be producing funny smells, though maybe that's just because it's a fossil fuel-burning vehicle. It's overdue for an oil change, though, and I'm pretty sure it needs a new air filter and possibly other stuff. But that takes money, so I'd better get a job soon.

Posted by mike at 04:33 PM | Car , Family , Music , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack

That's My Bush!

Yes! They posted the Bush vs. Bush debate on The Daily Show's website. This has got to be one of the harshest things anyone has done to Bush for ages. Here's Lisa Rein's version.