July 18, 2000

Advogato Entry 1

Well, I just joined (yeah, I came here from Salon..), so this is an inaugural diary entry. Maybe I'll actually get in the habit of doing a diary this time (then again, I don't know if I'd want some of my weirder thoughts posted in public..).

Anyway..

I just managed to upgrade a Linux Mandrake box about as much as I could. (Loopback filesystems are wonderful -- just download the ISO instead of getting a few thousand RPMs) It's a server running some proprietary mishmash of a RAID system (It's a RaidZone in case you're wondering). Unfortunately, their drivers only work with 2.2.15 (AFAIK, I suppose I could patch things up to 2.2.16, but I don't know if it would work). Also, their driver is distributed as a `.a' library/object file that gets compiled into the kernel. I think that's a GPL violation, but I don't have the energy to complain right now.. blargh.

On a slightly lighter note, I came across an IBM ad touting their Linux support earlier today. Pretty cool, though it isn't making the same waves it would have even a year ago.

I need to find where I put a 3-button mouse I picked up the other day -- X Windows with just 2 buttons is nasty.. I just hope the damn thing works (it was sitting in a pile of what may have been broken equipment). I had another 3-button mouse that worked with USB, but that seems to have gotten fried somehow.. Grr!

I joined a mailing list on Minnesota E-Democracy the other day and finally got around to reading the rules and guidelines. Boy do they suck. You're only allowed two posts per day. You have to put your name, e-mail, and city in your .sig, and you can't post under a pseudonym or anonymously. Some guy was going around flaunting the fact that he puts a 5-paragraph advertisement signature for `healthy' cigarettes at the bottom of each of his posts. I posted a reply to him, quoting part of the rules, only to discover that I was violating at least two rules in the process. I didn't have my city in my signature, and I sent the note with an attachment (my GPG signature).

I think they may have already banned me..

Posted by mike at 11:38 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Politics , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 19, 2000

Advogato Entry 2

e2fsck: Attempt to read block from filesystem resulted
in short read while trying to open /dev/hdb1
Could this be a zero-length partition?

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

I had a particularly nasty crash this morning. For some reason, my hard drives can't handle extended writes, such as what you'd get from ripping the audio off a CD. I've even reformatted the damn things and they still do this (I had thought it was a slightly corrupted fs, but now I'm thinking it must be slightly broken hardware.. grr..)

On days like this when things aren't going my way, I just end up feeling so tired and alone. It doesn't help that my job seems to not allow any human interaction. I should have got a job with my roommate belaying for rock climbers at the local gym. He got a girlfriend right away.. *grumble* I'm way too old to have been single for so long. Oh well, complaining will probably only make things worse.

I looked at some of the LFP variable-width fonts yesterday. They weren't very variable in the widths, and a lot of them were too small for my display. Perhaps more people need to try out Gote and make some decent scalable fonts..

I decided to pass a `-gamma' flag to XFree 4.0.1, and I think it helps. But somehow, Slashdot's colors managed to get even uglier. Also, I see that many websites are designed for non-gamma-corrected displays. *sigh*

Ralph Nader was here in MN again over the weekend. He drew a big crowd for a rally on campus -- 1500 people in one lecture hall. I'm gonna vote for him this fall unless there's a drastic change in the other candidates. I tried to search for some more news about it on the websites of the nearby newspapers, but their search engines are so braindead that they give you the same link 10 times. Maybe I need to make my own search engine for this stuff..

Rode my bike into work today, as I'm sick and tired of waiting for the bus. That and the fact that it was actually cool enough outside to ride without dumping a gallon of sweat. The foliage around here is beautiful this summer -- we've had too much rain, so everything is a very deep green.

Afternoon

Finally figured out how to print from Linux to Novell. It was actually pretty easy, so this will save me the trouble of managing IP addresses for 50 printers..

I just tried out Evolution 0.2 (you can get it through helix-update, you know..) and I really like it! Not as light on the memory as I was hoping, but not as bad as I was fearing. It seems pretty fast (my box is a P166, though I have 128MB of RAM). Of course, the Lotus Notes POP3 server just decided to stop accepting my password..

Yesterday, I was thinking a lot about the reasons I started using Linux. It wasn't because Windows (3.1) was bad, it was because DOS sucked and because OS/2 Warp 4 decided to ignore my SB16 (literally -- Creative wouldn't be caught dead writing new drivers). Of course, what I had really wanted to do was 32-bit graphics development (try finding a free 32-bit DOS assembler), but that never really happened.

Posted by mike at 12:39 PM Central | Bike , Decision 2000 , Old Advogato Diary , Politics , Ralph Nader , Software , Work , XFree | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

July 20, 2000

Advogato Entry 4

Well, I decided to mke2fs the damn thing.. Apparently, something exploded on my hard drive and threw random bits everywhere. I wrote a tiny program to try and find the 0xEF53 magic number marking a superblock -- found nothing in 1GB of data. I'm still trying to figure that one out especially considering that I did a byte-by-byte check. I should have gotten back hundreds or thousands or millions of false positives, but I got nothing.

I dd'd the first meg or so of the disk, found all sorts of aincent garbage (OnTrack disk manager, anyone?). Perhaps the kernel exploded after hitting the 5% reserved space for root... Hmm.. Found some text files that got turned into binary files from all of the flying bits. Oh well, at least it wasn't important data, and I do have a lot of it backed up on a CD somewhere..

Some of the corruption may have hit my /usr partition as well. MP3s were not playing nicely from XMMS. I ran `rpm -V xmms' and discovered that libmpg123.so had a bad md5sum. I just hope there aren't more problems.. Hmm.. Perhaps this had something to do with the solar flares (though I'd put that at about 3% probability). Maybe I need more shielding...

I'm probably going to write up several mini-howtos so my users can figure out how to mount their home directories via SMB, print to the Novell printers, and use SSH instead of telnet. Pretty generic, but who knows how well things will work. Also, I played around with the login scripts on our main Solaris box. People can now safely get bash running by creating a ~/.iwantbash file. I couldn't just change /etc/passwd to point to /usr/local/bin/bash, because there are other systems in the NIS domain that are Linux boxen with /bin/bash instead. Also, people can get GNU ls to work in color now with a ~/.iwantcolorls file. Hopefully, I put everything in the right place so the scripts people have written won't be broken..

I still have to tell my boss that I'll be gone for a week and a half to do Marching Band. Perhaps I'll have to do some coding on the Flute website. I just wish the U ran PHP on my web server..

Afternoon

*Yawn* *stretch* Ooh.. Actually did some work today. Did some more mangling on login scripts. What a mess those things are. However, I am really beginning to like RedHat's /etc/profile.d idea. I can just make tiny scriptlets and have them get run from either /etc/profile or /etc/bashrc (since it's an either-or situation when you start a shell, AFAICT). I suppose I'll be tinkering on über-scripts that can startup both Solaris and Linux pretty soon. Then again, I shouldn't play too much, since I won't actually have an opportunity to test them (users get a tad peeved when the system reboots in the middle of a week-long run of data analysis..). Oh well.

One of my roommates is coming to the apartment to visit. Yeah, he's not living here this summer. Stayed at home. Whatever. Of course, myself and the other roommate that are around here are happy he's coming, since his car works and we can finally go buy some food. It's either that or try your luck on some 7-month-old beef in the freezer. We're planning on going to X-Men this weekend, and I have another friend I should invite to come along. I hope I'll remember.

Found some school songs encoded in .au and .ra format on the Marching Band's homepage. I think I'll vorbize them, though I don't know how well 8-bit mono works..

Posted by mike at 02:39 PM Central | Dan , Josh , Movies , Music , Old Advogato Diary , School , Work | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

July 21, 2000

Advogato Entry 5

Got a note regarding login scripts. Yeah, I probably should try zsh, but I don't know how the users would feel about that. (Of course, I'm amazed that they haven't complained about being forced to use the (not so) good ol' Bourne shell on Solaris). Anyway, I'll have to put that on my todo list..

All this Solaris stuff reminds me. Two or three years ago, I was taking a programming class (Scheme, IIRC). One day, I was talking about how I was using Linux on my home computer. The girl sitting next to me said, "Why do you use Linux when Solaris is free [for personal use]?" *shudder* Probably because I keep finding little gems on our servers, like the fact that /bin is a link to /usr/bin, and (of course) /usr is not the root filesystem. I'm amazed that system actually boots.. Besides, why would I use Solaris if Linux has the best support for my 3D hardware.

Anyway, I'm enjoying a lazy morning -- the boss is doing a bunch of level 0 dumps on the servers and said I didn't have to come in until the late morning/afternoon so I can backup the user data. I'm taking the opportunity to look over some of the e-mail I got regarding a pseudo-FAQ I posted to the LiViD user mailing list. Hopefully, this will keep people from endlessly asking if the Dxr3 is supported..

I think the next computer I set up will be named `tacobell'. I've been naming systems after restaurants lately, and my roommate is pissed that the nearby Taco Bell closed down (it was very poorly managed. You'd try going there at 3:00 PM on a Saturday and it would be closed..) This way, he can have his very own Taco Bell..

IBM is investing a lot of money in Linux. That's pretty cool. Of course, I'm biased when it comes to anything from IBM -- they've provided my parents with income for about 25 years. Both of them have done some pretty interesting things. Mom did clock and calendar code for the AS/400, plus the bootloader and power management code for the S/38. Dad has done work with the '400's 32->64 bit conversion and a lot of more recent work on getting Java to run fast. Of course, since it's IBM, some of Dad's work is patented...

Posted by mike at 08:18 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 24, 2000

Advogato Entry 7

Evening

I had a refreshing weekend. Went out to see X-Men with two of my roommates and another friend on Friday -- very good show. Actually ate real food over the weekend, which was a nice change (our primary vehicle was down, so we hadn't been to the supermarket for a few weeks). However, I wish I'd had a decent chance to do some hacking..

Today I continued mucking around with login scripts -- that task will probably never end.. Solaris doesn't set $USER.. How weird. Oh well, I suppose it's not a big deal.

I played around with bash prompts a little too much. Man, tinkering with a cool color prompt can be really fun. Unfortunately, I have other stuff to do.

We're currently looking to find a cross-platform (well, just Solaris and Linux) backup solution. Right now, we're backing up the Solaris boxes with ufsdump, and the Linux boxes aren't getting backed up. We have BRU, though I'm not sure if we have enough licenses for the whole server cluster. I'll have to see if Amanda is a good choice, though we'll probably need to add SSL support.

We just put Samba on a few of our Solaris servers. It's working fine, but people are having trouble finding them in the browse lists. I'm not sure how stable SMB workgroups are when you have a large number of nodes. Many hosts seem to fade in and out of existence. We talked to the NT guys and they say that they have problems too. I'm sure that being on a /21 network doesn't help. NMB lookups still work, and a person can just type in `\\server\share', so I guess it's not a big deal.

I should really keep writing some documentation for the RLG Security Project that I'm trying to coordinate. At least I'm writing some similar documentation for my users at work, so maybe it won't be a big problem..

Posted by mike at 08:12 PM Central | Dan , Josh , Movies , Old Advogato Diary , School , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 25, 2000

Advogato Entry 8

Morning

Decklin: Yeah, I saw that $LOGNAME is getting set, which is good for those systems around here that don't have a version of `id' that can print out just the user name..

I think I'll be staying away from Windows 2000. My roommates installed Win2k Pro on one of their systems Friday night. They re-installed on Sunday night. NTOSKRNL.EXE was crashing for some reason. I tried replacing it with a known-good copy (using Wine, EXPAND.EXE, and a few DLLs), but that didn't work. The system just wasn't giving me enough information about what was going wrong. I tried booting with a bootlog, but the system didn't tell me where that log actually was! Grr..

Oh well, it's not my computer ;-)

Anyway, I just had Netscape crash because I hit shift-insert to paste again. I was working with a two-button mouse for way too long. Now I just need to get a decent video card. A lot of computers around here have some really nice displays (I'm sitting in front of a 17" Dell/Sony Trinitron), but the video cards only have 1MB of memory around here. Somebody wasn't thinking.

I copied 8.5 GB of data last night. I thought something had barfed as `du' clearly showed 17GB. Oops.. du counts things in blocks! *sigh*

I'm wondering if it would be worthwhile to put together a 10 or 100Mbps switch using Linux or *BSD just for my apartment. I found out that the hub we have is a piece of dung (I strung a 50 ft. Ethernet cable around the place, then plugged it into the hub. Collisions galore, even though nothing was connected to the other end..). Sheesh, any computer with a PCI bus has a Gb/s backplane, and you can add ports for $50 or less. Something to think about..

Well, I'd better go write some more documentation..

Posted by mike at 09:44 AM Central | Dan , Hardware , Josh , Old Advogato Diary , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 27, 2000

Advogato Entry 9

S.5....T   /bin/ps
S.5....T   /bin/login

Heh. That's good.. This box has been broken into before, I guess nobody bothered to clean it up properly..

I've just been going around the different servers and setting up NTP daemons and fiddling with other stuff. The Linux boxes here have been surprisingly stable. One of them has been up 194 days at this point. I almost rebooted it yesterday, but then I realized things were behaving strangely because the automount daemon had died somehow, but the mountpoint hadn't been released. A simple umount did the trick. Maybe that thing will run for another 194 days. I just hope that it will come back up after it finally goes down -- we don't have a display or keyboard on the thing ;-)

Anyway, I'm hoping to work on a new project. I want to make a simple program that will let me input simplified bus schedules and then display them on a webpage (or output to a text file, whatever). It's sort of an effort to keep the campus busdrivers `honest'. The city buses in Minneapolis are very good about being on-time (IMHO). The campus buses for the University, however, vary from their prescribed times by quite a bit. If they could just get down to ±2 minutes (that's a 5-minute window), I'd be happy..

Hopefully, I'll be able to make something simple, yet powerful enough to handle the weirdness of big-city bus schedules..

Posted by mike at 10:18 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Software , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 28, 2000

Advogato Entry 10

Hmm. Need to find a good, clean (and hopefully libre) method of getting Reflection X to work with SSH. Right now, it is heavily dependent upon Telnet or the r* commands.. blech. PuTTY is great for just being an SSH client, but if you need to tunnel X sessions, forget it. Perhaps I should just avoid tunnelling and go for direct X connections (ie. Set $DISPLAY to point to the client system rather than server:10 or whatever)..

Anyway, my boss gave me an Internet Security Scanner report about our servers yesterday. ISS guessed the SNMP community name and could change the system configuration. Oh yay. I went through and disabled quite a bit of stuff. At some point, I need to find all of the potentially sharp objects on the servers and make sure that they are safe. (mostly SUID root executables, but perhaps compilers and assemblers as well..)

We have a Linux Mandrake box that had some pretty nifty security stuff built in. I wish RedHat would do that.. However, Mandrake seemed to go a little too far in some places. I mean, should the /usr mountpoint only be readable by root? *shrug* At least it didn't start every service on the planet when I first booted it up. Of course, that system is the fallback fallback. Well, it will be primarily serving NFS shares. Secondary function is being a fallback NIS server. Tertiary function is being the fallback fallback shell server.

Anyway, the security report wasn't terrible, but not as nice as I had hoped. Of course, my Unix boxen were the only ones that didn't have the problem of predictable TCP sequence numbers (if they are not predictable, it is very hard to do complex IP address spoofing). The Novell servers were the worst, with ISS getting 100% of it's guesses correct about the sequence numbers. Most of the NT boxes were around 60%

I still want to work on my bus schedule proggie, but I don't know when I'll get the time. I can't live without my 8-9 hours of sleep (compared to most techies, I'm a total weenie). I might be able to live with less, but then I'd need to be able to sleep in until late (11AM or so). I'd also love to do some work with weather-related programs. You know, something that would send me a message if there's a Tornado Warning or something. I guess I just need to find a decent data source first.. Also, I hope the (U.S.) government will make NEXRAD radar data available publically when the radar contracts expire later this year. Getting hour-late images from Yahoo and other places just sucks. Besides, wouldn't you like to be able to zoom in on the images just like your forecasters do on TV? Or maybe make your very own 3-D flythrough?

Posted by mike at 01:05 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Software , Weather , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 30, 2000

Advogato Entry 12

Hey, djcb, fix your last entry -- you're missing a double-quote mark..

Anyway..

Went to the Twin Cities ``Rockin' Ribfest'' today and got a half rack of Roscoe's ribs, some fresh lemonade, and a Dove bar. All for $20.. Eesh. Yet another one of those *fests that that requires you to buy using tickets rather than paying in cash. But it was good.

I rode my bike there and back. There's a fairly nice half gravel/half asphalt road going along a railroad right-of-way. The road basically goes under all of the traffic, which is a much more pleasant way of getting places, IMHO. However, the road is suffering from potholes and washboarding. My arms were getting thoroughly tenderized for a while.

It would be really nice if the University would put a real bike path down there and connect it to the new bike/pedestrian bridge they just installed. One of these days.

I haven't gotten around to working on my bus schedule thing much today, though maybe I'll do something after Futurama and The Simpsons. However, I was pleased that I actually got Evolution to compile and run. Now I've got to try my luck at Nautilus..

One of the things that I worry about with Advogato is that the diary area could be prone to DoS-ing of various kinds. Individuals could presumably plaster diary entries all over the place, or post pages and pages of junk at a time. I imagine there are some checks for this already, but there's almost always a way around it.

Oh, I have a few mail-related problems. One is that I just started using procmail to filter my mail. Locally, I run an IMAP server so it's easier to view mail with disparate clients. Also, I think my mail actually gets loaded faster, as Netscape is not the most efficient at reading/parsing mailbox files. Anyway, I still have to find a way to get procmail to notify the IMAP server that it just dumped mail into a certain folder. Then, the IMAP server must be able to notify my client that there is new mail. This isn't happening automagically, and I'm not sure how to get it to work correctly. I suppose I may have to start using a different IMAP server or something.

In other news, I need to find a good way to consolidate mail at my workplace. Well, my mail doesn't matter, since I'm an admin and can basically do anything I want. However, the head of my department basically wants all mail to go through Lotus Notes (Domino?). I believe it is my task to now find a good way to get Notes to interoperate with my system and the Linux/Unix desktops of others in the organization. I imagine that the server can just run POP or (preferably) IMAP through stunnel. Then, any decent client can read the mail. However, calendaring still remains a bit of an issue, though Lotus is (or at least was) a supporter of the iCalendar protocol, which Evolution is going to support. My only question is, does Lotus actually support iCalendar or not?

July 31, 2000

Advogato Entry 13

I went and rotated LinuxSecurity.com's Linux security quick reference card. I couldn't get it to print nicely when dumping the PostScript version directly to our printers. A simple `-90 rotate' and some tweaking of a `translate' command and everything was peachy-keen. It doesn't display right in gv, but that's not a big deal.

My job today is to set up all of the Novell print queues on one Linux box. Then, everybody can print with Unix lpr/lpd pointed at the Linux box. Saves me the trouble of setting up IPX on all of the client boxes, but that's just two lines in /etc/rc.d/rc.local anyway..

Well, it's the end of July. August cometh. The Minnesota State Fair will be starting soon. (It's the first or second biggest, IIRC. If it's second, it's probably only behind Texas or something. Not bad for a state of 5 million) That's cool. School will also be starting in about a month. That's not so cool. I also need to exercise and practice for Marching Band.

Stress is building. I wish I had a gf to help me relieve that, but maybe having a gf would just make life even more stressful...

Posted by mike at 10:23 AM Central | Exercise , Old Advogato Diary , School , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 01, 2000

Advogato Entry 14

I hate Solaris. Well, maybe that's a little strong. I'm just so used to Linux, and it bothers me when things aren't where I expect them to be. Oh well, I'll get over it.

Saw that links browser. I'll have to try it out sometime.

Work is pretty slow, though it's not like I don't have anything to do. I really need to reinstall WinNT on one of my boxes. I suppose I may actually have to sacrifice some RAM from one of the Linux boxes I have -- I think the NT box only has 32 right now, which means it's dog slow. Personally, I don't need NT, but I have users who run it on their own systems, and I need to test out software for them (PuTTY and other stuff).

Lately, I've been organizing a lot of documentation. Clearing out old cruft from The Big Manual that we have for all of our systems here. At some point I actually have to use it to re-install a database or two.

I saw David Boies on Charlie Rose last night. He was talking about the Napster case, and was very good. I knew that he exaggerated some things, but he cited the 1989 Audio Home Recording Act when saying that it's OK to sample music and to share music with your friends noncommercially. I think I'll have to do some reading. I haven't decided if I'm going to buy any music this month, but my musical mind seems to be withering. I think I'll have to go get a few (or a lot) of CDs.

The commercial advertising actor strike is really bothering me. Very few ads are being made, so advertisers do not have any variety in their ads anymore. My mind is going numb after seeing the same ads over and over and over. It's becoming sickening, and I've been avoiding TV.

Posted by mike at 01:12 PM Central | Law , Music , Old Advogato Diary , Software , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 02, 2000

Advogato Entry 15

Grr.. I'm installing CRSP data on a Linux box here at work. Of course, Linux is not a `supported' platform (not that they seem to support their other platforms very well). They have this ungodly Bourne Shell install script that is really, really crummy. Of course, Bourne Shell doesn't have functions, so you have to cut-n-paste whenever you need to reuse code. Oh fun. And the idiots have to go chmod 555 all of their data. What's up with that? You should use 644, morons! Blah.

Anyway, I have to figure out the best way to lay out the directory structure so that the researchers that use it will actually be able to find the stuff they need...

I've had a highly unproductive day so far. I've been reshuffling documentation for our servers. I think I've gotten rid of all of the old crud. I'm lucky that I didn't throw out one section -- there was a server that I thought had been converted over to NT. We needed the root password.. It turned out that it is just partially converted. It's an old NeXT box (!?!@#$*@%) that runs what is apparently a fairly popular web site. At any rate, the filesystem had filled up from log files. Someone must have tried redoing the main index.html file, so the system truncated the length down to zero when they tried to save it... Oops. Thankfully, Google's cache brought it back to within a few months of it's previous glory.

Still haven't had much time to work on any Free Software. I really need the day to be lengthened to 36 hours...

Posted by mike at 02:07 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 04, 2000

Advogato Entry 17

Entry 16

I'm finally learning a bit more about why I'm here doing this job that I'm doing. The business school where I work is trying to set up a fairly massive Oracle database which will contain all sorts of information, from who is enrolled in which class to the financial data that we have in a number of binary or ASCII data files on our main servers. It's sounding like it will be a massive thing. We've got a quad-processor Sun box (E425R, I think) with a RAID bank that will be running the database, eventually accessible via web, Java, and other front-ends (or so I'm told). Request Brokers and all of those fancy buzzwords were thrown at me. Certainly, Oracle is a nice database, but can't you just slap a PHP frontend on it and call it a day? (At least in the early stages?) Also, it seems like my efforts around here will go to waste if people are no longer logging into my boxen.. A web interface is just so sterile and with zero personality.. Then again, Solaris' ordinary personality really, really sucks..

Last login: Fri Aug  4 11:16:11 2000 from <...>
Sun Microsystems Inc.   SunOS 5.7       Generic October 1998
$ tpo^?^?^?^?^[[2~^?^[[F
tpo: not found
??: not found
: not found
?: not found
[[2~: not found
?: not found
?: not found
[[F: not found
$ top     
top: not found
NOOOOOOOO!

At any rate, I just went put four copies of Seti@home on the server (they're really doing a number on the data chunks.. looks like about 10% every 30 minutes). Some Oracle guys will be coming in eventually to actually set up the database, but they want to have a good idea how it will be used before doing anything. Of course, nobody has really figured that out yet...

I have mentioned previously that I was working on a small NeXT box that has been gleefully serving web pages for years. They've been trying to port the backend of this thing over to NT for nearly the same amount of time. From what I can tell, it's just a medium-sized pile of Perl and TCL scripts. I'll have to see if it's hard to port it over to Linux or not. The box is not exactly in my jurisdiction, but only me and my boss are the only people around here who really seem to know how to administrate Unix-like systems...

Afternoon

Hmm.. I think I may pick up that 60 Gig Maxtor drive tonight, or perhaps tomorrow sometime. Of course, what sort of filesystem do you put on that thing? I need journaling if it's going to be that big. I see three options: ReiserFS, Ext3, and GlobalFilesystem. I'm kind of leaning toward GlobalFilesystem, just because I don't have to travel far to physically beat on the developers if something goes wrong ;-)

Posted by mike at 01:28 PM Central | Hardware , Old Advogato Diary , Software , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 08, 2000

Advogato Entry 21

Entry 20

Late/Early

It rained tonight, quite hard. It rained much harder a while back, and there was a small leak. Today, it seemed as though the entire wall was leaking, seemingly coming throgh the window, streaming down the walls, and dripping all over. It actually wasn't as bad as that sounds, but I'm sure it will get worse if I don't say something. I'll have to talk to the management tomorrow. Sigh.

Noonish

I had trouble getting up again this morning. I took a long nap after work yesterday, but then I stayed up very late mucking on IRC and doing other stuff. I decided to telecommute and have ended up having a very unproductive morning. I'm sure I'd be much more productive if I could just find some extra stimuli in my life. At least in High School I was forced to interact with people every day. At college, people aren't crammed so closely together, so they don't interact as much, or at least I don't.

Anyway, spent too much of my time reading Sinfest, which is really funny if you don't mind poking fun at God, swearing, and references to the sexual mentalities surrounding us these days.

I'm going to head out to actually work at work soon. The boss and I are a little worried that our developers are going to start using Microsoft J++ for communicating with the eventually-will-be-installed Oracle database. He gave me a copy of J++ to try out, in order for me to see if it's possible to actually produce something resembling pure Java with it. Unfortunately, my NT box is fairly underpowered, at least for NT4SP5 (P133 w/ 64MB RAM). I'm feeling masochistic, so I'm going to give Win2k a shot. My P166/128MB Linux box is extremely nice and snappy in comparison, though I really need to find a good video card for it (800x600 is becoming tiresome).

Late Afternoon

I'm displeased with my building's management right now. As I was walking out, I saw that we had a notice slid under the door stating that we owe $50 plus $25 penalty. Dunno what it's for, but I'll have to bring up my leaky wall when we talk to them about it.. Unfortunately, they keep relatively inaccessible hours like 9:00-4:30 or something, so I'll have to come to work late or leave work early some day. Blah.

I think I finally found something to hack on -- porting Secure Locate to Solaris. It's a small codebase, so it shouldn't take too long, though I'll have to read a bunch of man pages to refresh my memory about all of those functions. I think I'll be annotating a lot of source, too..

I'm annoyed with [X]Emacs, and *vi*, so I was looking around for decent editors. gIDE seems to be coming along nicely, and the syntax highlighting actually works (though it seems slow...). Finally, a text editor where I don't have to have a QWERTY keyboard (*vi*) or learn horrendous keystrokes ([X]Emacs). Not perfect, but it's something I can live with.

Oops.. I'd better quit before I start an editor war..

Evening

Somewhat disappointed that there was no mention of the multi-State suit against Big Music on the national news tonight. I guess it's not surprising, but it sure seems to prove the biases we believe to be out there these days. In a similar vein, it's amazing what is happening in China. I mean, the son of the President of the country is running a Linux company over there. It's basically impossible for interesting things to not happen because of this.

I've said too much today.. I'll be quiet now.

Posted by mike at 04:26 PM Central | Abode , Comedy , Law , Music , Old Advogato Diary , School , Software , Weather , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 10, 2000

Advogato Entry 23

Noonish

Woke up late, and stayed at the apartment again. I should have tried to do some work, but I've been lacking focus lately. It was probably good to play hookey a bit. Unfortunately I read my e-mail late. I got an e-mail (sent late last night, after work) saying I had to be around to tell some electricians where they should put some 30 Amp plugs. After swearing at myself for being so unorganized, I put myself together, had a quick breakfast/lunch, and headed out. Fortunately, I think I got there before completely pissing them off.

I did find some music by Paul Oakenfold this morning. Well, it's hard to say `some music' when you're talking about Paul Oakenfold, since the guy produces mixes running for an hour or two. It's amazing stuff, and I'll have to see if I can pick up some of it on CD.

I've tried to make music on my computer in the past, but I completely suck at it. I'm sure this isn't helped by the fact that I'm too cheap to go out and find a CD or CD-ROM of decent sound/instrument samples out there (actually, I'm probably not too cheap for that -- I've just never looked). Anyway, I'm a person that really likes high-quality samples.. None of that mono 8kHz crap.. Besides, the music trackers I've found have usually been pretty crummy (though there are some shining stars out there). Of course, hell would freeze over before I'd pay $100-1000+ for a decent tracker (and I'd never want to have to use Windows...) At any rate, I doubt I have the talent required to produce anything interesting...

Also, I have to mention Katz's recent Academe, as I posted a comment about where I work..

Posted by mike at 11:19 AM Central | Music , Old Advogato Diary , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 11, 2000

Advogato Entry 24

Morning

The 12 Coins Problem: It's really easy if you have a balance with 3 platters. You can even do it in two weighings..

Oooh.. here we go -- ``The A&E guide to the late summer big studio movie toilet. Approach with caution.'' Space Cowboys: How bad is it? James Garner seems to be edging his way off the set. The Replacements: Survival Tip: You won't. Take strychnine.

Sometimes, the campus newspaper just rocks ;-)

Anyway, I'm really impressed with the level of political debate in the US these days (and it's amusing to watch the coverage of the Reform Party convention ;-). I think Nader (and the others too) is really getting people talking. Of course, this begs the question -- how many people are going to be in the debates? I remember that there were some debates already, just involving the Democratic and Republican candidates. IIRC, the Republicans had 5 candidates, and the moderator was making a valiant but vain attempt to keep order. That many candidates is very difficult to handle. But I think that if you let in Nader, it's only right to let in others, namely Buchanan (who I hate, just so you know) and Browne (and there are probably others). This is an interesting year, though the primary candidates are very un-interesting (IMHO).

The electricians are apparently going to take quite a while to get the three new 30A plugs in. They managed to do the conduit for one of the plugs yesterday. That's about it. Oh well, we plugged our Sun E425R into some regular jacks for the time being. Still crunching Seti@home packets instead of serving an Oracle DB. We still don't know when that will happen. We don't know what tools will be used in the database project, so the Oracle people won't come and install the db. I have to help research Java development environments. Oh fun.

Finally moved some data over and started using my 60 GB drive. I'm not sure how well ReiserFS is doing it's job, but the drive is extremely quiet. Nice. At work, I'm still torturing myself with an 800x600 display. I think this is part of the reason why I'm having trouble getting work done -- I can't get enough stuff on the screen at once to see what I'm doing.

Enough rambling. Time to do some work.

August 14, 2000

Advogato Entry 27

Afternoon

Note to self: Learn how multicast works, and why my boxen will pick up all of the multicast data from a Ghost session when they aren't running Ghost clients. I'm not exactly sure how much extraneous data is getting pumped into my boxes right now, but the disk on my Debian box sure filled up quick by logging all of it. Debian has some pretty tight rules when it comes to firewalling, and they seem a little too tight right now...

I think I finally figured out why my NT box was so slow -- it was compressing all of the files on the hard disk. That would explain why the Cygwin installation took several hours...

Evening

I agreed to come into work early (~7:00 AM) to let the electricians into the server room. Oh fun. Better get to sleep soon if I have any chance of getting up in time.

I'm annoyed with myself for not getting into programming as much as I'd like. I'm not a whiz at it, but I'm not exactly a blockhead about it either. Oh well, I'll be taking some CSci classes starting next month, so maybe I'll become inspired..

Maybe.

I guess part of my problem is that there are so many different things that I'm interested in, and I can't focus on a single one very well. I spend a lot of time reading about this, that, and the other. Hours of my day are spend on news sites (both Computer news and Real Life news). I guess I just have to become less interested in the outside world and more interested in my local world, or something.

A girlfriend would help with that. I think. It's not like I have a lot of experience in that area... Blah.

Posted by mike at 07:50 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , School , Software , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 15, 2000

Advogato Entry 28

Morning

Well, it wasn't so bad getting to work at 7:00, though it's fairly surprising how many people are alive pre-7:00. Morning people. Ugh.

I tried to install Win2K on a P133/64MB. It didn't work. Er, actually, it's been hung on the startup screen for the past 18 hours or so.

One of the things that really annoys me about the lack of Linux support among (some) hardware vendors is the fact that many of their engineers probably run Linux at work or at home. You'd think they'd have an incentive to produce Linux drivers. Either that, or Linux is not as popular in the technical community as I thought.

Regardless, Linux and *BSD are quite popular with the college crowd. Even Michael Dell knows that -- he says that nearly 15 percent of the user base at places like UNC is running Linux (though I don't know if I should quote Michael Dell for such numbers). I know that there are a lot of people who run it here at UMN, though there have been problems (security is an issue, as the U's networks are scanned pretty frequently).

Which reminds me -- I still have to figure out how to tell the admin for my apartment's network that it listens to broadcast ICMP echo-requests. Every day, I get those packets. It's annoying. Especially since whoever is doing it obviously doesn't know what he's doing. Sending 1 packet every 30 seconds.. Hello? What are you doing? Trying to smurf from a 14.4k modem? Sheesh. (BTW - I've asked my building management about this already, they don't want to give out the information about how to contact my admin, as they have to pay extra when someone gets called in. Perhaps I should tell them that the network has been used to (attempt to) DoS Yahoo!, among others..)

Afternoon

nymia: Did you actually mean WinMe? You can still use bash, can't you?

mrorganic: I'm guessing you either have a crappy video card or are using it in framebuffer mode? If you want performance, you need to let X access the hardware directly, and don't use the FBDev X server.

In the long run, I expect the framebuffer to be the `right' way to display things, but there doesn't seem to be a huge amount of effort being put into making it usable (but maybe I just don't pay much attention). The Accelerated Framebuffer Library apparently hasn't been updated since last year..

In other news, I'm listening to the Gnome Press Conference right now.. (er, well, I was until just a second ago.. RealPlayer sucks..)

More Afternoon

nymia: I'm not sure if NT (which W2K is based on) ever had a DOS shell. It has something similar -- CMD.EXE, based upon CMD.EXE from OS/2.

Posted by mike at 12:30 PM Central | Internet , Old Advogato Diary , Software , Work , XFree | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 16, 2000

Advogato Entry 29

Morning

I've always wondered if someone `famous' used Linux. Someone you'd know from TV or movies.

Also, I wonder why women don't seem to get into Linux or `the community'. Girls are usually a lot more social than guys, so it would seem that this is a really screwed up world we all live in. Then again, the girls I know are highly susceptible to gossip, which can easily destroy social circles..

Hmm. I used `girls' instead of `women'. Blah, I'm not feeling PC today.

Anyway, I'm currently trying to do some wacky NFS sharing that is going to involve mounting loopback filesystems and other weird nonsense. There's probably another solution which is easier, but I haven't found that one yet.

Evening

Well, the loopback filesystem trick actually works (the problem was that the disk being shared didn't have enough space left, and it was supposed to be pretty much an exact mirror of another system. Symlinks to another filesystem don't work all that well with NFS, but maybe I could have still found a way..). Never thought I'd find a real use for loopback devices (other than viewing ISOs that haven't been burned and whatnot..). Then again, I guess a loopback fs is an important part of those bootable business cards, among other things.

Spent much of the afternoon mucking with TCP Wrappers on Solaris. Some of the daemons just don't want to run from tcpd.. Annoying..

I see that there are versions of tcpd that support IPv6. Might be fun to play with.. I've been interested in IPv6 for a long time, but it's only now really getting any use on the Internet at large. Debian 2.2 supports it though. Hopefully it will finally start to displace IPv4.

Kind of along the lines of why we need IPv6, I'm always scared by the DSL and Cable modem setups where you essentially get 25% efficiency WRT addresses. The lower number is the network number, the higher is the broadcast. The two left over are gateway and client IP. Scary..

And this brings me to a question I've had for a long time -- is there a system for NAT in IPv6? Ideally, this won't be necessary, but we all know that the service providers will only want to give you a single address if at all possible, meaning that they can bilk you for cash if you want more than one computer on your connection..

Annoying companies..

Late

It's raining, and I'm getting interested in how Free Software can be used to distribute weather information. There's a system called EMWIN that I've looked at before, but I don't have the time/money/hardware to play with it. The best way to get info right now is probably to have a satellite downlink. They have a moderately powerful transmitter up there, so the dishes only have to be 2-3 ft in diameter. Not as small as the digital satellite TV dishes, but not exactly huge.

The important thing is that you can get real-time or at least close-to-real-time data, which is often better than what you can say for most of the current Internet sources. With EMWIN, you can get notified of watches and warnings at the same time as or earlier than your local TV and radio stations. Weatherguys.com is largely powered by EMWIN data.

At any rate, I have been wondering if the National Weather Service will make at least some radar data publically available on the Internet after some contracts expire at the end of next month. It looks like they have defined the layout for how things will be on their FTP server. This sort of thing is a prime candidate for mirroring and multicasting.

Posted by mike at 09:06 PM Central | Internet , Old Advogato Diary , Software , Weather , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 21, 2000

Advogato Entry 33

Afternoon

Went home for a little bit. Tried to go to an `all-school' reunion, which was really dull as I was probably the youngest person there (most people there graduated in the 50's, 60's and 70's, I think). Oh well, got some decent food.

We have this research box at work. I was told that it was for `fraud detection', which I thought meant that it was some sort of honeypot box for detecting crackers (or at least script kiddies). I completely forgot that there is such a thing as financial fraud, which is what the box is for. Makes sense, as the box is in the business school.

Anyway, the main guy that actually uses this box for doing research is apparently back from summer vacation or something. He tried accessing it, but couldn't because there is a rule somewhere on one of our routers blocking that IP (I get `!X's when doing traceroutes from the box). Of course, nobody wants to take the blame/responsibility for it, and I couldn't get the block removed (well, the main networking people said it wasn't their problem, and the guys here say that they didn't do anything either). Changed the IP address, and now we have to see if the DNS entry can be changed..

I hope I will be able to do some more fiddling with radar data, though I don't know if I will be able to do anything this week (Marching Band starts on Thursday), and I don't even know what their schedule is for producing unencrypted data. I might just have to wait until the end of next month.

Evening

Well, it turns out that the central networking people foobared -- they actually were blocking the above-mentioned system. I guess it got broken into a month ago. I'll have to see if I can pull down a [rd]ecent Linux ISO of some kind to do a reinstall. Maybe Mandrake..

I had to try and figure out how to back up the system in a reasonable manner. tar is supposed to support running over some sort of remote shell, but none of the commands I tried would work. In theory, you should be able to do something like `tar cvIf user@host:/path/to/archive.tar.bz2 /path/to/archive', which would be really cool, IMHO.

Posted by mike at 05:21 PM Central | Corporations , Old Advogato Diary , School , Weather , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 23, 2000

Advogato Entry 34

Morning

Wow claudio. That's kind of a scary picture. I'm not exactly sure what kind I am. I try to avoid non-free software (Netscape is my big exception right now), I like point-and-click, though I understand (and use) the power of the command line (well, don't forget the fact that all graphical file managers for Linux are currently crap). I'm running bash2, and I'm a .tar.gz or .tar.bz2 person.

As for my xterms, I run with reverse-video white on black, and with ls aliased to ls --color=tty -F. I've also hacked up my own /etc/DIR_COLORS file. I remember some point a year or so ago when someone jokingly made `ls.themes.org'. I thought that was a great idea ;-)

In the area of documentation, I like it when programs are completely intuitive, or if they at least have some decent usage information when started with --help. However, I hate it when I want to look at the more advanced parts of programs, but I can't because of inadequate docs in /usr/doc or the man pages. I also hate info pages, unless I'm viewing them through gnome-help-browser.

Anyway, I'm having all sorts of trouble with this fraud detection box. Well, that's making it sound really bad. It was actually a pretty easy install. Unfortunately, the IP address it is using has been administratively blocked on one of the routers to the outside world. Getting that fixed has been pretty difficult. I do have it running on two different IPs right now, so at least it can be accessed. However, the DNS entry doesn't point to the publically accessible address. Oh well.

Hmm. `publicly' and `publically' are both correct spellings, according to M-W..

Afternoon

krftkndl: I, too, have heard the call of `just write another one,' and rejected it. However, I think there really are enough people pissed off about the current state of text editors that they would love to do that. But I just can't help thinking that someone has already made the editor I really, really want..

In the meantime, I'm counting down the minutes until I leave today. I'm not coming into work again until school starts (~10 days). I'm going to be really busy for the next week and a half...

Late

``We will bury you,'' or something to that effect: LinuxToday links to the story. Does this mean I gotta boycott Sony? Dammit...

Posted by mike at 09:17 PM Central | Corporations , Old Advogato Diary , Software , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 25, 2000

Advogato Entry 37

Afternoon

Well, I haven't been keeping up with this. Being sick for a month doesn't help things.. Oh well, I'll have to see if I can get back on this horse.

I totally screwed up a CSci assignment today. I was supposed to download a Word(!) document, fill in relevant parts, and hand it in.. Oh well, it's still early in the year, and I still have plenty of time to make up for stupid mistakes. Hopefully, I'm done with stupid mistakes for this semester.

I don't know what it is, but school really seems to take a lot out of me. Even if I don't do anything (or maybe it's because I don't do anything), I get really tired. I should really get into an exercise routine (heh, like that'll happen).

The exciting event over the weekend was that Ralph Nader had a fairly large rally here on Friday. I paid my $7 to get in. Apparently, 12000 people is (or was as of Friday, they're still having rallies) the largest gathering of individuals paying to listen to a Presidential candidate. Not that it means we gave a whole lot of money -- they got about $110k (entry cost plus donations once in the door). Still, it's a much better deal for me than those $25k/plate dinners that some candidates have (*cough* *cough*).

Anyway, I'm having all sorts of fun bashing Sun here at work. We can't figure out how to use the 100Base-T network card in our new server. Fun. My boss had hooked up our tape drive to the system without realizing it only ran at 10Mb. Our backups are running several times slower these days.

As always, I keep hoping that I'll get motivated to help out on some open source projects. Someday it'll happen..

Found out about a semi-new TV channel in town, KSTC 45. There have been all of these strange `Hi, I'm Gregory and I'm 45' posters and ads all over town. It's kind of neat, as it is supposed to be an independent station with a local focus. Unfortunately, they're owned by Hubbard Broadcasting, a company that owns about 10 stations (and they at least used to have a DBS network). It's just hard to call a station like that `independent' (of course, they mean that it will not have a network affiliation

Posted by mike at 12:39 PM Central | Decision 2000 , Old Advogato Diary , Politics , Ralph Nader , School , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 19, 2001

Advogato Entry 54

Almost Noon

A new day, sort of.

Got up and went to my CSci class -- class was canceled, but I still had to hand in my (unfortunately unfinished) homework. Oh well. Went to work for a while this morning, then went to my next class, where an exam was dropped on me. I guess I should have picked up a syllabus when I had a chance...

Anyway, I'm back at work. Right now, I'm looking for a piece of clip-art or a picture of a broken monitor (preferably smashed to bits and smoking or burning). I want to use it as the banner on a Netsaint box I'm building (the hostname will be `monitor', so I figure it's fitting). Unfortunately, I suspect my search will be fruitless..

Afternoon

Having some trouble getting OpenSSL and OpenSSH to compile/install properly on the servers here at work. The really new versions are not wanting to compile on some of the older OSes we have laying around (RH 5.2, some random incantations of Solaris). Oh well, just drop back a rev, I guess.. Those systems should probably be upgraded anyway (at least the Linux boxen).

The networking folks are going to run a vulnerability check on our servers sometime this week, and I'd like to be sure that they're zipped up as tight as possible.

On a completely different note: Girls suck. Sorta. Kinda. Well, okay, I'd be happy to make a different opinion if I could just figure out how to talk to them. blarg..

Posted by mike at 09:37 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 05, 2001

Advogato Entry 99

I'm discovering that a girl I know is basically turning out to be a muse for me. Unfortunately, I have no control over when she shows up (she's a girlfriend of a friend), and thus my motivation is as chaotic as ever. Ugh.. So confusing. If only life came with a manual page.

LIFE(8)          Universe Programmer's Manual            LIFE(8)

NAME
      life

SYNOPSIS
      live; die

DESCRIPTION
      Life is spawned.  It does stuff, then dies.

BUGS
      It's difficult to get working right.  This manual could be
      spruced up a bit, too.

Anyway, I had a good day, though. Went to the local LUG's meeting on OpenNMS. It looks like a really nice tool, but you really need some horsepower to run it. It uses Java, which is part of the problem. The good thing is that it seems to be pretty portable -- you just need a few hundred megs of RAM, a fairly large hard drive, and a few hundred MHz. I think I'm going to stay with Netsaint for now.

I hung around with a friend from High School for most of the afternoon. We discussed a lot of stuff, though it largely centered around computers. I don't think I've `geeked out' for a while, so that was nice. He's having trouble finding a job, though I guess he's not very sure if he wants to get a job doing computer stuff.

He totally agreed with me that it appears that one problem with electricity generation in this country is that it's too centralized -- something like 2/3rds of the electricity evaporates before it reaches customers. Decentralizing power is probably better -- no need to worry about the losses of sending power huge distances. Of course, I don't know if there are enough people to manage a lot of small power plants or fuel-cell shacks effectively.

Well, if I can find some motivation, I should do some studying for my finals this coming week..

Later

Why the hell isn't anyone running IPv6 or Multicast yet? Is having support for these things in all modern host and router operating systems not enough? sheesh..

Posted by mike at 06:05 PM Central | Brian D , Internet , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 08, 2001

Advogato Entry 130

If only I knew how to get cp437 on the web..

o/~ I want your girlfriend to be my girlfriend... o/~

Dammit.. Way too many unwanted sexual images today. I'm noticing it because I'm depressed about my grades. I got two Cs and two Ds. At this University, a D usually means a failed course. Dammit. I was depressed this past semester, and unmotivated. I really didn't want to deal with differential equations again, but they forced it upon me. Why can't they just drop the math? Dammit.

My Dad's coming up tomorrow, basically to get me out of the apartment, I guess. He'll also probably try to do some amateur psychology. Not really looking forward to it, but I really do need to get out of this place for a while. Maybe I can get to a decent movie or something.

I'm really introverted, and I don't get into social situations as much as I should. Even when I'm in them, I don't say much, but just being around others and not being forced out of the loop makes me feel better and reminds me that these carbon entities that pass by me every day actually have brains.

I'm enjoying my work life, and I can't complain about my generous parents. I just wish that I'd had the strength to get to know some of the girls I went to High School with. I ended up fixating on one, which I'll probably never forgive myself for. I'm scared to death that she might be scared to death of me.

I just listened to ``Pink Moon'' by Nick Drake. It's a song that makes me wonder about what my classmates have done in their lives, as the song was featured in a Volkswagen ad a year or so ago. You may recall it -- several friends are driving along the road at night, enjoying the open air (since the top was down). They arrive at a party, where a drunk guy stumbles past their headlights. The friends in the car look at each other, then pull away from the party and continue driving around.

I've been to one party in my entire life. I'm definitely much more like the people in the Volkswagen than the folks at the party.

Anyway, I suppose I should actually put something about computers in here. I think I'll have to re-work some of my ideas behind the wireless ethernet firewall. Now I think that the bridge is a little too low-level. MAC addresess can be spoofed, after all. I think I'll use a combination of MAC address and IP filtering, plus VPN through PoPToP or something similar.

Posted by mike at 08:05 PM Central | Music , Old Advogato Diary , School , Work | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

June 25, 2001

Advogato Entry 139

I had an interesting weekend.. My apartment building's router died at about 1 AM on Saturday, so it didn't get fixed until about 8:30 on Monday. The stupid building management won't let anyone in to fix this sort of thing unless it's during business hours. I told the girl in the front office that this was unacceptible to me, as similar things have happened several times now..

It's likely that all that had to be done was to reset the router. I told them that if that was the case, they should just invest in a remote power switch accessible over the phone.

I'm getting curious as to what alternatives are available for our apartment.. DSL is probably more likely to work than a cable modem (seeing the tangle of boosters and things already here). It really sucks that one of the big selling points here was the Internet access..

Luckily, this coincided with a few friends coming into town, so we didn't just sit on our asses all weekend doing nothing.

I haven't heard from the Matlab or Mathematica people, though I did get pointed at GNU Octave again. I took a look at that -- I guess they strive to be at least semi-compatible with Matlab, which is pretty cool.

Today, I had a terrible time concentrating at work, so I left early and went for a bike ride (after my conversation with the front office folks..) and got burned..

<tangent> In High School, I became obsessed with one of the girls in my grade. I don't know why it happened, and I probably never will. Somehow I just got it in my head that we were somehow meant to be together. Even so, I kept my distance. I tried to talk to her, and we talked through a few phone calls and handwritten notes. It just didn't work, and I've had an empty part of me ever since High School ended.

My belief in possibilities turned her into a muse of sorts for me, though I guess it was all in my head. That's the most frustrating thing -- knowing that the pain I've felt by not being able to be with her is probably all due to my (then) over-active imagination.

Anyway, I thought I saw her the other day, which is partly why I decided to take my bike ride. A faint part of me still hopes that we'll see each other again, and finally speak face-to-face. I know the scales are against me, though I hope it would at least bring some much-needed closure.. </tangent>

Posted by mike at 06:34 PM Central | Internet , Old Advogato Diary , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 31, 2001

Advogato Entry 160

Hmm. Rack for servers is still sitting down in the loading dock. Not sure when that will get put together. I'm perfectly happy with it still being in pieces -- I don't really want to move everything again.

Still haven't gotten this WinNT box to crash. I've had it for nearly two months now, and it still works fine. I figure the reason why is because, being a Linux guy and realizing that running as root is not a good idea, I've been logging in as a user, then logging out and logging in as Administrator when I need to install something. Probably keeps things a little saner. It is annoying that I can't just `su' to run installers and whatnot, though. The Amanda backup setup here at work decided to estimate very strangely today. The actual backups were about 2x what the estimate was. The backup started at 1 AM and is still running now at almost 3 PM. Worrisome.

Whoa! Just reminded myself that the amcheck cronjob was just about to run. That probably would have rewound the tape (not that it necessarily matters at this point -- the dumps didn't fit anyway). I think Amanda might be having trouble calculating things when >2 GB dumps are involved.

Got an AIM note from a female friend up north. She's really cute, so it's always a joy to hear from her. I don't have enough girls in my life at the moment.. Wasn't awake this morning when she sent it, though, but I did respond through e-mail. Hope I get to see her again soon.

Later

*sigh* Two weeks ago, the news media was terribly scared about reporting on the Code Red worm. Now they can't get enough of it. Jeez, does it have to require a press conference from the FBI for people to consider it newsworthy?

Bought some music: Paul Oakenfold, Live in Oslo and Orbital, In Sides.

Posted by mike at 01:02 PM Central | Internet , Music , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 20, 2001

Advogato Entry 179

Music

Not sure what it is about music, but I always have to keep hearing more of it. I need to listen to new stuff, or my brain turns to mush.. It's something I realized several years ago, though I've always had trouble actually finding music, since nobody on the radio will tell you what they just played. I don't really like it, but I've ended up turning to MTV and (mostly) MTV2 and actually occasionally hearing music I like. At least they label their music..

Tuned in recently to notice Sugar Ray. Some cognitive dissonance there.. I actually like a lot of the music from that guy/group, though I thought I didn't.. Also heard Michelle Branch, who reminds me a lot of a girl I was obsessed over in high school. Strange that the one song of hers I've heard reminded me how I felt back then..

I'll have to pick up some more music to see if I can get my brain to unstick and start thinking again..

Last little note about this: I was watching something about Neanderthals/Cro Magnons last night, and they mentioned something about the brain. They aren't really sure if Neanderthals came up with art and jewelry on their own, or if they learned it from the Cro Magnons. It's interesting because they said something to the effect of, ``The jewelry was a manifestation of something more inside,'' suggesting to me that art is something more than I thought it was. The creative process, I guess, involves art, music, engineering, science. Everything. And if parts are taken away, we stop moving forward. The ``don't touch'' attitude is bad, I think..

I need more art in my life

and a girlfriend..

Stuff

Exchanged some e-mail with one of the campus networking guys. He's interested in getting together at some point to discuss my firewall ideas in more detail. I should really talk to my boss a bit about it (and the discussion should go all the way up the chain and around the staff, probably). I shouldn't be representing the whole School without some more support (I'm only an underling, so I may have overstepped some bounds..)

I forget how much time can be spent playing games. SimCity moves too slow sometimes. Of course, it moves excruciatingly slow with disasters. Things just don't seem to burn as fast as they did in the previous versions ;-)

I kind of think Loki should see if they can port some older games. Hell, a lot of great old DOS games won't even run on Windows these days

Bah, talking too much. I should get to work.

Posted by mike at 08:39 AM Central | Music , Old Advogato Diary , Wireless , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 01, 2001

Advogato Entry 185

Installed Debian on the old server (an Ultra 30) the other day. We'd been having SCSI troubles with the system back when it was running Solaris, but the errors didn't seem to follow any reasonable pattern, so it wasn't obvious what the problem was.

The server had been our Amanda tape server, and we're planning to keep it that way. The DLT tape drive and an external enclosure with three hard drives in it are connected on the same bus. It turns out that the cables are too long or we're using a bad type of termination. I think..

I set up the internal hard drive to contain the operating system, and the external disks are now set up in a software RAID 0 array (~24 GB total). Once Amanda started running, dumping to disk, and then writing those dumps to tape, things really went nuts. The SCSI bus was resetting every few seconds. Anyway, I'm going to try re-arranging the cables and drives.

Hopefully that will help. Otherwise, I was thinking of either taking the DLT drive out of its enclosure and mounting internally, or getting another UltraSCSI card. The RAID 0 drives were running perfectly when I left work yesterday.

I think I may have to come in this weekend and fiddle with it. Classes start on Tuesday, and I'd really like to not have to worry about stuff going on at work, so hopefully I can get a good, clean start this semester.

Posted by mike at 06:52 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 04, 2001

Advogato Entry 186

Garr..

Still having trouble with SCSI on the Ultra 30. Also having trouble with software RAID. It destroys the partition tables on the second and third disks in the 3-disk array. The drive just has one big partition, so I may just do it `raw' without any partitions to deal with (/dev/sdX instead of /dev/sdXN).

Wondering if I should report a bug to someone on that.. The disks were using Sun disklabels. Maybe there's a bug that applies to non-DOS partitioning schemes..

Tried putting in an Adaptec 2940UW, but that didn't appear to work. The kernel module just loops forever on initialization, trying to reset the SCSI bus so it can see all of the devices (just a DLT drive). Oh well. Just find a card more appropriate for a Sun, I guess.

Back in the real world, the whole apartment is having an interesting time getting to know a cute girl I've mentioned before. We all gladly drop whatever we're doing when we know she's going to be around. We're all crazy, I guess. I just hope we don't end up doing anything stupid..

Classes just started today. I'm in an `Internet Programming' course, which turns out to be a class on how to do stuff in web pages with JavaScript and Java, and how to do server-side stuff in Perl and Java. We'll also do some actual Internet programming by doing socket programming at the end of the semester, but I'm kind of annoyed that we do all of this web stuff first (and in those languages rather than something nice like PHP ;-)

I can't understand my Automata professor

Again

No wonder this is my third time taking that class..

Posted by mike at 04:41 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , School , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 07, 2001

Advogato Entry 188

Work is getting a little too interesting now. I need to make sure I don't spend too much time doing that rather than my schoolwork.

Turns out that the Adacemic Distributed Computing Services is pushing Sun/Solaris solutions, since that's how they get their money. They apparently get a cut of any of those things. They aren't too pleased to help out with Linux stuff.

Still, we're going to eventually be getting Veritas's NetBackup for Linux on Sparc. We'd be able to get it pretty much immediately if we were running Solaris, but I hear it's going to be a few months since we're weird.

Amanda rocks ;-)

I guess we have a few power users that really got interested in the possibility of having a Matlab-like environment with parallel processing capabilities. I'm still working on getting an MPI-enabled version of Octave going. Having some trouble, and trying to find the best way to solve it. I'm doing it on Solaris, which appears to be the problem...

Posted by mike at 02:13 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 24, 2001

Advogato Entry 194

Worked today on a few little administrative things, mounting some filesystems that hadn't come up for some reason, etc.

Attempted to build a 2.4.9 kernel with RAID 0 support from the Debian sources (and later tried to query why the stock kernel packages don't come with raid modules -- not sure if that got through to the mailing list or not..) Compile failed, probably since I was using gcc 3.0, and the sparc64 compiler at that..

Tried installing Gnome on one of our Solaris servers, since I was having difficulty logging in to CDE or OpenWindows. Managed to crash the system 'cause Ximian's installer _still_ doesn't care when disk space gets completely used up. Sendmail apparently had a fit and caused the system to go down because of a full /var. Too bad that's our freaking Oracle server!

Frantically searched for a way to get it started again. Not sure if it worked or not.

Ralph Nader is going to be at Northrop Auditorium tomorrow.

Posted by mike at 08:33 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Ralph Nader , September 11th , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 25, 2001

Advogato Entry 195

Turns out that other people have had the same troubles I've had using RAID on Linux/[U]Sparc. The disklabels (`partition tables' for you Intel-only folks) would consistently get clobbered on the second and third disks. Best guess is that the Linux RAID code assumes a DOS-style partition table to be there.

Of course, PC partition tables suck anyway. I believe someone should invent or find a better system for Linux to use, with enough room allocated for a good bootloader, and none of that stupid extended partition crap.

Also, it's entirely possible that a very good system already exists. Maybe BSD disklabels? (do they have that annoying `whole disk' thing too? so strange..) I suppose now would be a great time to do it, since LVM is becoming a more common thing. Also, with 64-bit systems becoming more available (sort of), it'd be a good time to get together with the people who build these systems in the first place to define what the BIOS must do to get a system going, what it doesn't have to do, etc.

I better learn a lot more about this before I keep saying what should and shouldn't happen..

Looks like my `atomic clock' finally synced up again last night. In certain weather conditions, it works great. Other times, it's just terrible. I don't think it had gotten synced for the past several weeks. At least my computers all run NTP ;-)

Nader at Northrop tonight.

Posted by mike at 02:03 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Ralph Nader , September 11th , Weather , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 02, 2001

Advogato Entry 197

Haven't posted for a few days. Been somewhat busy with homework and, well, being lazy. Currently seeing if I can compile octave-mpi again or not.

Too bad `make -jN' doesn't always work. I suppose people don't like having to set up the proper dependency structures for it..

Stalled too much on homework this weekend. Got it mostly done, but not as good as I could have done. Something just seemed to be missing for me after a while.

I suppose James Randi could probably debunk it easily, but it's interesting that the Global Consciousness Project at Princeton apparently can see changes in the output of random number generators when big events happen, suggesting that thought or emotion can somehow affect the physical world.

I've wondered a lot about my place in the world. Probably any conscious being would do the same. There are the thoughts where you wonder about where, when, and why. Is the world real, or some sort of test for a soul or a mind?

Maybe I read too much sci-fi as a kid, though I think I just identified with it. But it probably had a negative impact, too.

I probably believe a little too much in fate. I just expect certain things to happen in my life. I'll get a girlfriend someday, and things will just happen, right? Unfortunately, it hasn't `just happened' yet. Which all probably just screws up my worldview and makes me feel like I got left out or something, somewhere didn't click when it was supposed to.

I tend to get like this after I've spent too much time sequestered in my room. I need to get out of the apartment more, see more people, and probably get out of town. Again, timing lands in my way. I was hoping to see Zoolander with friends this weekend, but it sounds like they'll be going next weekend, when I'm planning to go home for a few days.

Dammit dammit dammit dammit..

Posted by mike at 09:14 AM Central | Movies , Old Advogato Diary , School , September 11th , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 17, 2001

Advogato Entry 214

Well, I decided to snmpwalk my building's router, and was somewhat surprised to see that it actually worked! I'm now graphing traffic in and out of my apartment building with MRTG. As I suspected, the connection is pretty much maxed out. What surprised me was that outgoing traffic was the big culprit. Okay, that fact didn't surprise me, but I was amazed at how big the effect was. I thought that both incoming and outgoing would be pretty much pegged, but outgoing traffic was maxed (around 189kB/s -- the maximum theoretical bandwidth of a T1 appears to be 192 kB/s) and incoming showed a fairly normal curve. Annoying that it looks like there are just two or three people sharing lots of data and screwing up the connection for everyone else..

I'd like to learn how to make prettier graphs with RRDtool, but then I need to learn a new `frontend.' Of course, the current method for configuring MRTG sucks anyway. It's really annoying to have to modify line after line after line just to duplicate an entry for a new interface or host. Maybe I should just look at some config file generators..

Finally sent in the booklets for Nielsen ratings. They might not count what we watched, since I mailed them a few days late. Who knows. Of course, my roommates didn't really bother to keep track anyway..

I got tangentially involved in the news in the last week. A news crew from WCCO followed some folks from a new security company in town around downtown and the campus looking for open wireless networks. They apparently printed to some people's printers and sent out forged e-mail. They stood outside where I work, and started accessing professors' computers. Needless to say, the wireless firewall project got a kick in the rear to get operational soon.

It's really close to being ready anyway. Unfortunately, we won't have any encryption mandated on the network, so we'll have to block some of the nastier protocols that let passwords go out in the clear a little too much. Telnet, FTP, POP3, and IMAP are all probably going to be blocked. Debating locking out SMB shares as well..

In my Internet Programming class, I was happy to learn about pseudo-terminals. If it's not already obvious from the screen, they're `virtual' terminals which are moderately easy to hook up to a program. He showed an example of using Perl's IO::Pty and Net::Telnet to run ssh. Pretty funny, but it looks like it should work.

I need to write a chat server and client in Perl this weekend. I suppose I could emulate the behavior of talk if I really felt like it.. Probably too much effort..

There's a big orange sign on the front door notifying our building management that they forgot to pay for sewage service. I wonder if the city posted that today.. The stupid office people usually aren't around on weekends at all anymore.

Hmm. I should go buy some music.. The stuff I'm playing is becoming very redundant..

Posted by mike at 11:40 AM Central | Internet , Old Advogato Diary , School , TV , Wireless , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 26, 2001

Advogato Entry 223

Well, of course, it turns out that Sarah turned 21 last night. Her pre-college friends and current roommates worked pretty hard to get her drunk, though she seemed to be taking it pretty well by the time I and my alcohol-free roommates left her with those folks at around 11 PM.

Actually, we first went to Cattle Company (a.k.a. Stuart Anderson's). Had some steak. Got full. Then we went to a bar a short distance away.

My roommates and I mostly stood around looking dumb. I must have been looking really dumb, since one of the first people I was introduced to was `Gay Paul.' That did wonders for my self-esteem, let me tell you (*cough*).

Ended up watching some of the people there play pool. Tried to fix one of the little web terminals that was there (kinda wish I'd had a BBC on me), but it was running WinME -- probably not worth resuscitating anyway...

Got a picture taken with Sarah. I probably looked stiff as a board or something (I don't really photograph well), but hopefully it'll turn out. Got a nice hug as we were leaving, so that made me feel pretty good. It was probably alcohol-induced though. She left a pretty funny voice message with us at some late/early hour. It's saved, so we can play it back to her anytime ;-)

Anyway, still slowly hacking away at the wireless network firewall at work. I haven't been working on it hard enough, though I've been waiting for folks to finish other things..

Don't forget, Star TrekWeakest Link is starting momentarily. I only ever watch Weakest Link when they have celebrities on. It's usually pretty funny, though they're often evil people, and usually kick off the best players...

Later

Wow. The Star Trek folks were pretty cool, and usually picked appropriate people to kick off. Wil Wheaton managed to stay in the game for quite a while -- he was the last one to walk off the stage before Levar Burton and Robert Picardo duked it out.

Wil was playing to support the EFF, so too bad he didn't win.

Posted by mike at 04:58 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , TV , Wil Wheaton , Wireless , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 11, 2001

Advogato Entry 232

While I wait for Amanda's configure to finish running on my SS20, I may as well put some words down.

Like I said, I'm compiling an Amanda client on an SparcStation 20 box. It's really only running one piece of software, something that handles room registration for classes and whatever. I guess it has data going forward a few years!

Anyway, it's going to be retired sooner or later. I'm hoping sooner, but who knows if that'll happen.

Chatted with Sarah on AIM quite a bit last night. She was working on an audio project, putting together some music. I guess she ran low on time, and isn't feeling so good about the quality of her work. I made some feeble attempts to cheer her up, but I don't know if they worked at all. About all I could do was wish her luck -- she's presenting it today.

Woo! Amanda finished compiling. Looks like I managed to install it properly, too.

Posted by mike at 09:37 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 15, 2001

Advogato Entry 236

crap crap crap

Love is definitely a cool feature of being human. I just wish I knew where I misplaced the manual.. I'm really trying to push Sarah out of my mind. If I don't manage to do that over Christmas break, it will be a -- geez, I hate to say it -- painful holiday season. It kinda works now, but I'm only at the point where some thought about her pops in my head, and I swear under my breath. It seems like I've got a mild case of Tourettes ;-)

Anyway, it gets worse when I'm under stress, so I need to find ways to relax. May as well go out and get some stress squeeze toys. Heh, I need to work on my grip strength anyway ;-)

I had a somewhat crummy day on Friday. I was all worried about my Internet connection being down. I was certain that it wouldn't be fixed when I got home, or I'd have to rant at the network tech or something. I guess the expectation of having that way of venting just made things worse, as my connection was actually working when i got home.

``Come back and break it again! I need to yell at you!''

Anyway, I wanted to come home early from work, but managed to find some work to keep me there. Turns out that I've been using a bad version of GNU tar (1.13) for our Amanda backups. The index files were all broken, as some strange number was being inserted at the beginning of each line in the index. I upgraded tar on all of our Solaris servers to 1.13.25 (since they were the affected systems -- all of the Linux boxes had sane versions of tar).

Actually had to write a little code to go through and fix the broken indices. It wasn't much, though -- just a bash script for walking through the directory tree with a perl one-liner to strip off the leading garbage. The files also had to be gunziped and the gziped again.

Kind of funny, though. I think that script is probably the biggest time-saver I've ever made. It also actually runs for a non-trivial amount of time (though it's not like it goes and does stuff for hours). Finally, something that wasn't just a silly math problem that takes actual processing time.

Posted by mike at 09:20 AM Central | Internet , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , Software , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 08, 2002

Advogato Entry 246

Finally got our Cyclades 8-port serial terminal server (TS800) working at work. I think, unfortunately, it was all a simple matter of having the ports numbered in the opposite direction on the front as on the back. I'd noticed this on my ethernet switch a month ago..

              8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
             +---------------+
             |               |
             |               |
             +---------------+
              1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

That seems so dumb.. I never think of rotating the thing 180° -- I figured that the lights on the front would directly correspond to the ports on the back.

Sheesh, this box should have been working months ago..

Anyway, I figured it out because we finally got some RJ45<->DB9 and RJ45<->DB25 adapters, though I have to wire them up myself. Discovered that the cables that work are not normal null-modem/crossover cables. They're similar, but they don't use the `standard' cabling. I'm not sure why it works. At any rate, I built an adapter that is wired like the cable that works, and another wired like how Cyclades says things should work. I hope at least one of them works, but if they both work, I'm not sure what to do..

I wish serial crossover was like ethernet crossover, where you don't have to splice any wires together..

Looks like Dell shipped my order yesterday (probably around midnight or something), four days earlier than they estimated. I guess they have some leeway in their estimates. Of course, the annoying thing is that it'll probably get to Minneapolis on Friday or Saturday, meaning that it can't get delivered until Monday.

Sarah and Josh went up north to visit her family. They'll be back Thursday, but that probably won't make me feel any better.

Need to find out when the CSci advisor is available... Crappy grades..

Posted by mike at 07:32 AM Central | Hardware , Josh , Laptop , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , School , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 15, 2002

Advogato Entry 252

Got a wireless card for my laptop today. Cisco Aironet 340 from work. Looks like it doesn't support WEP at all, though iwlist seems to report that it handles 64- and 104-bit encryption. Strange.

Trying to figure out how to get the winmodem in my laptop working. Not that I need it now, but it'd be great to finally have a backup for when our building's network goes down. It appears to be a PCTel 2304 MDC modem (PCI), but the pctel drivers don't appear to work -- they look like they're for ISA PnP winmodems. `lspci -vv' reports that there's a subsystem of a Conexant unknown device 0x5421.

Oh well, I have ethernet almost everywhere anyway, so it doesn't matter too much if I get this to work.. It'd just be kind of cool. I think that's the last piece of non-working hardware on this box. (Hmm.. not exactly.. I still need to figure out how to get the video drivers working completely right..)

Posted by mike at 09:18 PM Central | Laptop , Old Advogato Diary , Wireless , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 23, 2002

Advogato Entry 258

Just had about the weirdest day of my life. Second day of classes, and I actually talked.. I'm taking some courses at the business school, and about half of the class is Computer Science students! What the hell? I think I was the only CS major in the previous class I took there.

Bumped into Sarah as she was coming out of a class, and helped her find an office to get a permission number to get into that course.. Showed off where I work, but only for a moment (I didn't really have anything interesting to show off...)

Discovered that Internet Explorer apparently doesn't like self-generated SSL certificates at all... Need to actually pay for a certificate at some point, or find a workaround.

Anyway, it's just been a weird day. I've been overstimulated by the talking in class and stuff.. My courses look to be pretty intensive. I know that my previous classes have been hard, but it wasn't obvious on the first day of class.. I guess I'm not sure how these classes really stack up..

Still waiting on permission numbers for two classes.. Not sure what will happen there.

Gotta cut down on using my laptop for web browsing. Using the scratchpad doesn't seem to be good for my wrist..

Posted by mike at 07:22 PM Central | Encryption , Internet , Laptop , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , School , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 28, 2002

Advogato Entry 259

Have a pretty bad headache right now. I tend to get headaches when I don't get enough sleep. But then, I often worry that I sleep too much.. People have always discussed the `average' 8 hour night, but I tend to need 9-10 hours to be rested. Well, I think.. I'm still not sure what's appropriate for me.

Anyway, I had a decent day, spoke up a bit in class and got some things done at work. Unfortunately, the big thing I was working on today (restoring a system from Amanda backups) didn't go well at all.

The hard drive died on that system, so I had to boot off of something else. I had an old Linuxcare BBC, but it was too old.. The version of tar on the thing was 1.13, which is incompatible with the tar dumps we've made with Amanda.. It would mostly work, but files were prepended with a directory name that looked like a timestamp of some sort.

Anyway, I played around, trying to get stuff to extract somewhat correctly.. I ended up chroot'ing the tar and gzip that were on the partially-restored system to extract things properly.. In the end, I was stuck with trying to install LILO, but it would complain like

/sbin/lilo: /dev/hda: No such file or directory

Even though it was plainly there..

Anyway, I spent way too much time on it, and I have a pounding headache. I need to get some rest, but I need to do some work for classes tomorrow before I fall asleep..

Posted by mike at 05:46 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 10, 2002

Advogato Entry 264

Katz is going off on some strange tirade about pre-/post-9/11 movies on Slashdot. It got me thinking (for no good reason--It's a pretty poor review), and I realized I haven't written down my experiences of that day..

I don't remember when I rolled out of bed, but it was later than I wanted. My roommate had woken up and had left the room, so I figured it was time. I climbed into the chair at my computer, powered up the monitors, and started my daily morning browsing. I think I hit Slashdot first, and the top story was the first article of the planes hitting the WTC towers. I tried getting to some news websites, but couldn't get anywhere.

I turned around and powered up the TV and turned it to CNN. With my groggy morning eyes, I saw a wide-angle shot of the towers. It looked entirely fake, but I figured if it was on CNN...

I came out of my room and went into the den. I turned off the music my roommate had started up, and turned on the TV out there. I still wasn't fully awake, and could barely manipulate the remote controls well enough to get it turned to CNN. I tried to tell my roommate what happened, but I didn't know anything. Some big planes had hit the World Trade Center.

Anyway, nobody knew anything, so I took a shower. I can't remember much else that happened. I know that the sky was very clear and blue. I came into the business school building where I work, and saw a huge crowd of students watching TV, but I felt like avoiding the coverage until people actually knew something. I went into my office area and sat down at the computer, trying to do some work, but I was thinking too much.

I was chatting with people on IRC, and was informed when the towers fell. I didn't have a TV at that point, so I didn't know they'd pancaked. I just couldn't imagine it.

Anyway, I sat around at the business school for a while, but I was going a bit stir-crazy. I walked to Taco Bell, about 15 minutes away on foot. On the way there, I saw a small United States flag protruding from a building. September 11th was a primary election day, and the flag was there informing people that they could go vote.

That was probably the last time a flag really made me feel good. It was a puny little thing, only a few inches in size, but it meant so much that morning. I smiled, and kept walking.

I got to Taco Bell. One employee was on the phone, looking out the window at downtown. She said, ``I know they're going to target downtown.'' It never actually happened, but people were worried. Anyway, I ate and tried to remain calm.

I got back to my desk and tried to work again. There were still way too many things racing through my head, plus I got a little worried by the fact that the business school is a very shiny corporate-looking building. I decided to head home.

I got home and spent some time watching coverage, browsing the web and chatting on IRC. That day, classes were supposed to start late for me, around 12:30. I was hearing that they may have canceled classes. Before long, I found they had..

I walked to class, finding a notice on the door saying that classes after noon were canceled. I started heading back to the apartment, but decided to see if my brother was at his dorm room. We got some lunch and hung out for the afternoon, though definitely it wasn't the most entertaining time we'd spent together. I spent most of my time watching TV, while he played Civilization on my computer.

In a lot of ways, it was a very dull day. It was very strange to feel so affected by something that happened half a continent away.

Strangely, the events since then have made me less interested in the news. I'm sure there's a lot of stuff going on that I'd like to hear about, but it gets drowned out by `The War on Terror'. Hell, I just wish the cable news channels would get rid of all of that extra crap on the screen so I wouldn't have to get reminded of it as I flip through the channels..

Hmm. There are some other things floating around in my head, but a bunch of it has already been posted, so I don't want to re-write it..

Posted by mike at 12:17 PM Central | Erik , Internet , Old Advogato Diary , School , September 11th , TV , The Media , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 28, 2002

Advogato Entry 268

I've done a lot of browsing today, picking up little bits about the updated Microsoft settlement. I don't even know where the settlement is, though.. I guess I don't feel like reading that now anyway ;-)

Reading about some networking stuff. I'm getting kind of concerned about the lack of IPv6 deployment, but I was amazed at the fact you can just do `apt-get install freenet6' on Debian Woody and get an IPv6 address. With a little fiddling, you can have your very own /48 prefix (sort of, it goes through some ISP in Canada). At any rate, it's a good stepping stone. I saw that it's now possible to set up reverse DNS entries for the IPv6 addresses you get through Freenet6, which would be a good thing to work on and see if IPSec/IPv6 works.. I guess I need to look into using a USAGI patch..

I need to get my roommate to plug into our Linksys WAP11 access point so I can get IPv6 going over the 802.11 connection in my apartment.

I wonder if I'll get a chance to fiddle with IPv6 on our wireless gateway at work.. Not sure if I want to play with that or not ;-)

Posted by mike at 08:09 PM Central | Internet , Law , Old Advogato Diary , Wireless , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 01, 2002

Advogato Entry 269

Ugh.. arpwatch is totally useless on a DHCP'd subnet.. I don't know why my boss likes to run it.

Decided I might try to set up a mailer with a decent configuration on our main Sun box. Sendmail is complaining about a mail routing loop, apparently since the MX record for that system points to itself. I fail to see why this is a problem. On the other hand, one of the other servers we have seems to think that our main box is a smarthost, and even local mail is getting bounced around to the main box. Wacky.

Looking at postfix, looks like it'll be just as much of a pain as anything else.. I tried figuring out how to compile exim once, really made me appreciate the Debian packages.

I wish we could go completely Linux here, but it's not gonna happen. My boss really likes Sun hardware, but Sun is being evil about Linux on Sparc, and very few software vendors support Linux/Sparc.

I set up almost all of our Linux systems to load the ipv6 kernel module at boot. I'd like to play with that at some point, but it looks like the building's routers and switches need to be upgraded to support it (well, they really need to be upgraded anyway..)

Posted by mike at 03:02 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 01, 2002

Advogato Entry 283

Man.. Sarah and I are just way too compatible. We keep agreeing on all these little things.. Naturally, she's still Josh's girlfriend.

I'm moving soon (end of the month), probably into a fraternity for the summer. They've got DSL, digital cable, etc., so it should be pretty nice. The place is basically laid out like a small dorm, though we each get our own fridge (or half a fridge, or something like that).

Saw an odd thing today -- an apparently Muslim woman walking down the street wearing a Calvin Klein headdress.. The assimilation has begun, I guess

Been doing lots of stuff at work lately. Got a new version of Netsaint running, and it's now keeping track of many more things (with many yet to be added). In case people don't know, Netsaint has been renamed to Nagios, and Ethan Galstad, the main developer, is going to be giving a talk on it on Saturday at the U of MN.

Also, I've been tapped to build another firewall or two. Apparently Nimda reared it's head in one of our computer labs. Sheesh. Linux is a swiss army knife, but should I really be using it like a Band-Aid to fix problems that could have been avoided in the first place?

Posted by mike at 07:30 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 08, 2002

Advogato Entry 284

Spending too much time avoiding some end-of-semester projects. Dunno how far I'll get with them.

Anyway, bigger news for me was discovering that the Sun StorEdge A1000 arrays we have are not exactly operating at peak efficiency.. 4MB/s is a little slow for a RAID array. Still trying to figure out why that's happening..

Posted by mike at 08:14 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 21, 2002

Advogato Entry 289

Ah, the joys of turning into Big Brother.

We put a 3c905B-FX card into our Netsaint server the other day and connected it up to the building gateway today. The idea was to "mirror" incoming/outgoing traffic onto that interface, and log packets.

It's getting us in trouble already.

Ordered a cell phone on Sunday, should show up in the next few days.

Moving in a week.. Did some packing/cleaning already. Bare walls in the apartment make me feel pretty sad actually.. :-(

Posted by mike at 01:17 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Wireless , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 30, 2002

Advogato Entry 295

Went out to Audio King and tried to get a Tivoli Audio/Henry Kloss Model Two, but ended up having to order it. I had to live closest to the one Audio King in Minnesota that didn't have it in stock. Anyway.. This morning, I was looking for a nice car stereo, but ended up hunting around for something to use in my room.

The box is supposed to have a great tuner, though the demo box didn't seem to pull in stations as well as I'd hoped. Of course, there are any number of things that can mess up reception even on the best of receivers. It still sounded very good compared to the boxes sitting next to it which cost much more.

At any rate, it should arrive in a few days. I didn't order the subwoofer, but I might get one later. I don't really have the space at the moment, and I felt like a pretty big dork as it was ;-)

At work, we're running around trying to find space in the server room. We got a very large air conditioning unit to go in there. Fortunately it's on wheels, but if it had been taller and wheel-less, we wouldn't have to deal with it taking up so much floor area. We've also got a rack or two of FibreChannel equipment coming in. My boss is frantically looking for a rackmount console for at least one of our Sun systems, and we're running into trouble with our Cyclades TS800 crashing. It seems to not like our Sun Netra X1.

I'm finishing up classes. Took a final for my database course on Wednesday, and I've been helping to put together our presentation for my Financial Information Systems course. Hmm.. I suppose I'll have to dress up a bit tomorrow.

Posted by mike at 05:56 PM Central | Hardware , Music , Old Advogato Diary , School , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 16, 2003

Advogato Entry 298

Some unusual stuff happening in my life lately, so I figured I should write it down.

I don't want to go into much detail. I chatted with Sarah, she felt I sounded depressed. I wanted to take the opportunity to talk to her later, but she ended up being too busy the rest of the day. I wrote a late-night e-mail laying out some of my thoughts. She hasn't mentioned it yet, though I think she read it (though there's a distinct possibility that Hotmail's junk mail filters trashed it).

Anyway, we all went out to a restaurant for dinner. My fortune cookie said, ``Now is the time to go ahead and pursue that love interest!''

Yeah, even the Mongolians are against me (although I guess all the cooks were Mexican ;-)

I'm sort of looking for a new job. My boss is trying to keep me at Carlson, but needs to find funding somewhere. I think I'm going to wait until he finds someone to fill the student position that opens up as I graduate, perhaps facilitate in any knowledge transfer that needs to take place (where did I learn to talk like that? I guess the business school has rubbed off on me). After that, I'll be happy to go look for work elsewhere.

We'll see what happens..

Posted by mike at 09:58 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 23, 2003

Advogato Entry 299

Hmm. The lock vulnerability is pretty interesting. I don't know why I didn't come up with that idea myself, since it's so simple.

I've run a few numbers on the problem, and it appears that even if you have some pretty nice locks with 100 million possible keys, you can find a master key with only 40-80 tries. Of course, I hear that locksmiths have plenty of tricks that are even more effective than that..

I'm wrapping up stuff at work (sort of -- there's some documentation that I've been avoiding writing). Last day will be tomorrow, barring something strange happening out of the blue.

Posted by mike at 12:38 PM Central | Hardware , Old Advogato Diary , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 29, 2003

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.

Posted by mike at 08:33 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 30, 2003

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 Central | Work | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

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 Central | Car , Family , Music , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 01, 2003

Jobaroonie

Mmmkay.. Looks like the U Job Center keeps jobs posted on their website even after they aren't really available anymore. Got a note from them this morning saying that there have been too many applicants for a job I tried to apply for, but the job was still listed on the website last I checked. Oh well, that job was for the Army High Performance Computing Research Center, which kind of goes against my morals these days anyway.

Looks like there are too many people looking at too few technology jobs at the U, or maybe I just need to get a bit faster at applying for the jobs.

Posted by mike at 09:33 AM Central | Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 08, 2003

The Wandering Man

Went to Fairview-Riverside today for an appointment, then decided to stop in and see some people on my way back. I tried stopping by my old boss's office, but he wasn't around. It was when he usually went to lunch, so I decided to see if Sarah was at Rarig. She was, so we chatted a bit.

She mentioned that a place she had planned on moving into last year was owned by one of the Eischenses, who are well known in the area for being bad landlords. Students sue or attempt to sue them on a regular basis, but I guess they tend to countersue. That's not a pleasant thing for a student to think about.

Some people have discussed the article I linked to, some of them saying that if a place is not in good repair when you move in, you get what you deserve. However, I know Sarah got a bit sucked in by the whole thing, since there were a lot of promises made about fixing up the place she wanted to move into. In a way, I suppose she was fortunate. They didn't get the place cleaned up in time for her, so she ended up moving into a different place.

Anyway, it was good to chat with her again. Hopefully we'll get to hang out a little this summer, but we'll have to see how that goes. She said to expect something in the mail from her, but she didn't say what.. I have no idea what that could be..

After chatting with Sarah, I wandered back over to Carlson and talked to Carlos. Sounds like they've had some rough times there since I left, but probably no worse than anything I'd seen. I guess he's become a master at re-installing the Oracle database server and can do it in less than a day now. The Storage Area Network (SAN) is up and running, though apparently the storage controller (running some bastardized version of Windows NT 4) crashes on a fairly regular basis. Fortunately, that only causes things to freeze up for a short while until it reboots, and no data gets lost.

I pointed out the Soekris hardware I've mentioned here before to him. He thought they seemed to be reasonably priced (I think the prices aren't great, but definitely better than most other "embedded" products I've seen). Anyway, they'd be good for many things they need to do there with wireless firewalls and stuff..

We discussed SQLite a little bit, since it was mentioned in the recent Linux Journal. That's one of the backend options for Movable Type, so I'll have to take a look at it and see if it can make the editing interface for my website more responsive. Right now, it can take 30 seconds or more to update certain pages, which is no fun at all.

Anyway, after I got home, I was glad to sit down. I had some muscles on my sides that were hurting from walking so far (well, it's not so far, but I haven't been walking enough for the past few weeks). I'll have to see if they hurt tomorrow. If not, I'll have to go for a walk. If they do hurt, I'll have to go for a walk on Saturday and let the muscles heal a bit..

Posted by mike at 04:32 PM Central | Sarah , Software , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 15, 2003

Workie

I applied for a few jobs last night. They were all a bit out of my comfort zone, but they seemed interesting. But, doing something somewhat different for work than what I do for fun would be nice.

One job was with SGI. It's kind of a sales job—something about figuring out whether systems will handle customer requirements. Basically, I'd be a guy giving the sales reps their numbers. (okay, that sounds a lot less interesting than it did last night, but I don't think it'd be a bad job—and I might get to play with fun SGI boxes ;-)

Another one was doing phone support for networking eqipment (VPN servers, etc). I think it said it was in support of field techs rather than customers, so it would be less mind numbing.. I'd also test configurations on hardware at the “home base”. I'm pretty good at troubleshooting, so it could be a nice job for me.

The job that started me on an applying binge (okay, 3 isn't a binge, but whatever) was a testing job. Write scripts, have a program run and verify that the output matches what we expect. Seems kind of dull, but I suppose it would generally be something new fairly often. Probably no worse than my Carlson job in the “fun” department..

Posted by mike at 11:08 AM Central | Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 30, 2003

I Feel Good. I Feel Great. I Feel Wonderful.

Something's a bit weird about me today. I think I haven't been eating right. Oh well, at least I got out of the apartment—I went to Snyders, made some copies of my cable bills (to submit with my rent), and bought some filing folders so I can organize my bills.

I only get a few bills each month, but they're already stressing me out. I guess things get a little confusing since my rent and cable are pre-paid, but electricity and cell phone are post-paid.

Still, I'm starting to feel the bills, so hopefully I'll finally be motivated for finding work on Monday. It's the start of a new month, a way to get going fresh..

The weather is kind of keeping me inside at the moment, though I think I'm going to have to do something later. I'm just off-kilter right now and need something to put me in balance. Maybe someone will want to go see Finding Nemo with me, though maybe that should wait until Sunday or Monday.

Posted by mike at 03:32 PM Central | Abode , Movies , Self , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 01, 2003

Well, It Is Bondage-A-Go-Go

Ugh, must start doing sit-ups again, my back is starting to bother me.

Various other thoughts that can be summarized as, “I need a girlfriend.”

Other than that, yesterday was kind of an odd one. It wasn't bad, but it kind of promised more than it delivered. I thought I might have had a lead on a job, but it just turned out to be a “business opportunity” (hence the quote in my previous entry).

Going out to Ground Zero was fairly fun, though I expected more people to show up, even though most of my social net is out of town this weekend. Oh well, I shouldn't complain, as I put zero effort into getting people to go (besides, who the hell would I call?)

Anyway, Erin put on a show with one of the guys there, which was “interesting”

Heh

There were a few parts I really enjoyed, though most of it wasn't really my style. Of course, it matters a billion times more that Erin enjoyed herself..

Well, today I am going to try and find 4 sets of 3.5" → 5.25" hard drive mounting brackets for my disk array. For some reason, they are very hard to find, at least inexpensively. I'm sure they cost like 50¢ to produce, but they charge insane prices for the things, and I usually can only find the floppy variety (which doesn't quite fit). At CompUSA last night, I found one they were selling for $15, though that included a UDMA IDE cable.. There were some less expensive ones there too, but I just can't justify spending more than a few bucks on the things.

Posted by mike at 11:57 AM Central | Erin , Exercise , Hardware , Music , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 06, 2003

All Play and No Work

Got calls from my parents yesterday, they're slowly getting annoyed that it's taking me so long to find a job. My dad just managed to annoy the heck out of me. I don't like being pressured to do things, but I guess it worked for the moment.

I find it hard to call people (and lots of potential contacts don't list phone numbers online at least), so the online job search is something I much prefer. Unfortunately, lots of stories in print, on the radio, and on TV point out that some absurdly low number of people find jobs online, in the range of 1-5%. That seems ludicrous to me, but I guess it makes sense when you consider that there must be hundreds of different little job sites out on the web—ones like HotJobs and Monster are just on the top of the heap.

Of course, the web is full of stories like this, and there are tools to assist us—search engines.

So, I search for “minnesota technology jobs” and wouldn't you know it? I start finding stuff..

Anyway, I ended up applying for somewhere around ten jobs last night. Not that I have any way of making follow-up calls on more than two of them...

Ah yes, and then there's the Slashdot story on a related subject: “Offshore Outsourcing Threatens Offshore Outsourcing”

Posted by mike at 10:11 AM Central | Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 11, 2003

The Jobbing of America

Ugh

I'm having fears that my resume is being rejected by people because I'm not sending it to them in Word format. I'm sending HTML, which I think looks wonderful in any damn browser on the planet. But I have no idea if it looks any good printed out, because my Linux printing setup is being a bitch. It worked before, but now it's just b0rked.

Now, I'm trying to figure out what to send to some people at the Walker Art Center, since they specify that they like things in RTF format. At the moment, I can't convert my HTML resume into RTF. I don't know if should do it or need to do it..

Lots of places are being very unresponsive to me. Other sites require me to enter my information in over and over, which I guess is just as bad as filling out paper applications...

This is just...stressful...

Posted by mike at 03:48 PM Central | Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 13, 2003

What Tangled Webs

Just turned on my apartment's air conditioner. I feel accomplishment at waiting this long, though I guess it's nothing really great. I think we once had the A/C running in March when Josh, Dan, and I lived with Seth. Of course, the old U Village apartment was pretty much a big greenhouse.

It's hit 80 degrees inside my apartment daily for the past few weeks—must be too much insulation. It's hit that temperature now, but it's warmer outside and my mom is staying here tonight. She came up yesterday to do some stuff at a quilt show, and slept here last night. I felt bad because my room was a bit cooler than the living room. I suppose that's because of my computers..

Anyway, I dropped her off at RiverCentre in St. Paul this morning, and I'll pick her up before supper.

My car was running on fumes by the time I got back to Minneapolis, so I stopped at the place on 10th and University to get some money (closest TCF ATM to my place these days) and gas.

I went home and finished up watching season 3 of Deep Space Nine. The Star Trek folks really did an excellent job on the extra features..

Then I got some lunch and went over to the IT Career Center to look at some jobs. A few interesting things, but not much.

I stopped by Erin's work to say hello, and went out and sat listening to her and Beth when they went on a smoke break. John came out too, and I tried to pull a name out of him for a job lead, but he couldn't remember who he was thinking of the last time we talked..

Anyway, I'm just glad I decided to stop by there, as I figured that Erin had left already. Hope her (and Beth's) trip goes well.

Posted by mike at 03:08 PM Central | Abode , Dan , Erin , Family , Josh , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 18, 2003

Interview with the Ground Wire

Currently lining up an interview with some people at Adaptec. They have a place in Hudson, Wisconsin and I might be able to get a job doing testing there. Ugh, I probably oversold myself in the note I wrote, though. Well, it's not really overselling, just being vague ;-) However, if they're real hardware guys, the wording I used would probably be interpreted as something much better than what I can really do (since I'm more of a software guy, or someone who is in-between).

Oh well, I can at least work on my interviewing skills.

I shouldn't bring myself down too much, though. I do know a lot of stuff about hardware—I just couldn't build the little pieces to save my life. I know a crapload about PC hardware, though from a top-down perspective rather than a bottom-up one.

Er, it's a contract position, though. I don't want to be the dumb guy learning from them if I'm only going to be there a few months. I guess I'll have to see what they're looking for in the interview.

Posted by mike at 12:40 PM Central | Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 21, 2003

Touring Machine

Well, I was originally going to rant about how web site designers think that making links pop up in new windows all of the time is the greatest thing since sliced bread. However, arguing about that would only serve to show that I have no life.

Instead, I decided to go out for a walk and then get a late lunch. I figured I'd wander toward downtown across the stone arch bridge and then swing back on the Hennepin Ave. bridge. However, I got sidetracked and wandered through the “Mill Ruins Park.” A really crummy name for a park, but not a bad idea. Actually, when I first saw the name, I thought it said “Mill Runs Park,” which makes a bit more sense to me.

The city is slowly reconstructing the water raceways that used to power some of the area grain mills. Part of the project is the mostly-collapsed building across the river. Apparently that is turning into a museum.

Anyway, I detoured through the area and ended up being spit out a bit east of downtown. So, I took the opportunity to wander past the West Bank campus and go to Noodles & Co. for my meal.

Unfortunately, the detour also made me come back in a different direction than I was expecting, so I didn't go by the grocery and Snyders to get stuff.. I guess I'll have to do that tomorrow.

Also, I may have to pick up an iron and an ironing board to make my clothes a little more presentable for my interview on Monday evening.

Posted by mike at 04:49 PM Central | Exercise , Food , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 23, 2003

Opportunities Abound (Sort of)

Well, I just got back from my interview. Seemed to go pretty well. They showed me around and explained a lot of stuff to me, which I figure is a positive sign. I was also dressed better than they were, which I suppose could be good or bad...

They said that they were just starting interviews, so that unfortunately, means the timeframe for notification (about 2 weeks) overlaps with another thing I might be able to do for a month. I'll have to call the people heading that up tomorrow and see if they're still taking people. However, this Adaptec job would pay a lot more and would likely be steady for 9 months or so.

So, I'll send out a post-interview thank you tomorrow, after I've called those other folks.

Too bad the Adaptec place is pretty far away on a pretty sucky stretch of I-94 and right next to a truck stop. Just what I need to be dealing with at 9 in the morning—screwed up roads overflowing with fleets of semis. At least I'd be going in the “wrong” direction (less traffic) and there would be plenty of opportunities to stop for supper on the way back. Still, I'd have to invest in some nice sunglasses (always driving toward the sun) and a CD player or MP3 player for my car so I don't have to listen to the DJs and ads on the radio.

I have a hypothesis that more crashes happen when DJs are yapping and ads are blaring than when music is on the radio. I'm sure there's no good way to figure out if that's true, though.

Posted by mike at 07:30 PM Central | Car , Music , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 26, 2003

Hey Hey!

Yay! They offered me the job. I guess it's not the most secure prospect in the world—they said it would likely run through the spring, and they supposedly re-evaluate things every 3 months. That's okay, though, since it's a different kind of job than I'd been looking for. Still, it's work, and the pay should be good.

Now I've got to contact the contracting people that they want me to go through. I guess I'll be working by Monday or Tuesday...

Posted by mike at 05:12 PM Central | Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 27, 2003

Death, Taxes, and Spam

Well, I'll have to be careful with my income, once it starts up again. I'm going to be in a contractor position where they don't bother much with the taxes. They probably report my income, but I have to deduct taxes on my own. I'm not really sure how that works—my dad was saying once that consultants need to deal with taxes on a quarterly basis. I'm not sure if I will fit into that category or not...

Well, I suppose if I do things right, I can earn some interest on the extra money. It might not work out to be much, but it might cover the amount of time it takes me to figure out the whole tax mess...

Posted by mike at 11:09 AM Central | Money , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 30, 2003

You Did What?!

I had an interesting first day of work. Got a new cryptic username to use at work. And I thought hick0088 was bad... They gave me a pretty silly default password, though I didn't have a chance to change it right away. I managed to get my voicemail password changed, at least.

Sounds like the guy who left and made my position available was getting into trouble while he was there. It sounded like he may have been stealing stuff...

Just to get me famliar with the processes they use, one of the guys there set me up to spend most of the day making some simple DVDs and VCDs after doing some video capture (picture). I had no idea that nearly all DVD writers could also write to CD-Rs, but apparently that's the case.

I was also shown some of the software used for testing devices on Macs. Looks like my Linux expertise will help with some of that stuff. Of course, Mac OS X is way different than Linux, so I'll be running into more than a few brick walls...

Posted by mike at 06:35 PM Central | Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 01, 2003

Mike.Mac

Well, I started moving more toward doing actual work today. I finished off copying various installation CDs (for the various operating systems we work with, along with some other utilities) this morning. After that, I was shown how the SCSI bus analyzer works. It's kind of interesting, though probably not quite as neat as I would have liked..

Then, I was tasked with updating a Mac from OS X version 10.1.5 to 10.2 (Jaguar). Unfortunately, the OS didn't want to upgrade—it hung at an early screen while “Reading Packages...” Anyway, I Googled on the problem and discovered that you need 128 MB of RAM for 10.2, and the machine I was on only had 64.

The funny thing was that the screen after where the machine hung included the requirements.. Of course, I think it would have been best if the installer detected that only a small amount of memory was available, and warned the user.. Maybe I just wasn't paying attention.

Anyway, a lot of this Mac stuff is related to work we might do
because of changes in 10.3 (Panther).

I spent a little time thumbing through some Mac OS books they had, just to get myself up to speed on some of that stuff.

Well, anyway, I'd better get to Rainbow so I can get some food. I need something to eat in the morning ;-)

Posted by mike at 07:13 PM Central | Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 02, 2003

Look Out!

Argh. I am now 3vi1—I need to use Outlook at work. Forcing me to reply above quoted messages. AAAAHHHH!!

Microsoft is a plague, on both your houses!

Okay, that doesn't make any sense.

Back to testing.

Posted by mike at 01:16 PM Central | Work | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Workaholic

I guess I could say that I did actual work today. Whether or not the stuff I'm doing will be useful is anyone's guess.

I'm getting interested in playing around with ACPI on Linux in. Dunno if I'll actually end up doing anything or not. A lot of the stuff I'm doing at work involves making systems go to sleep, and then praying that they'll wake back up again (okay, I haven't really had any problems yet, aside from when one system crashed after sleep-cycling about 90 times).

Anyway, most people who use Linux have to use APM, which is an old way of doing power management. Unfortunately, APM doesn't let you deal with fun things like hot-plugging of devices, and it looks like my system will never hibernate when using APM (support just doesn't exist in the BIOS).

Of course, ACPI has all sorts of other tricks you have to deal with, so I guess I might end up breaking something, which would be no fun.

Other than that, I have to figure out if I can get paid in this pay cycle or not. I'm not even sure who to report my times to, and with the holiday weekend, I don't know if anyone cares. Also, the team supervisor was already gone today.

My money might get a little bit tighter than I was expecting while this gets worked out (well, I still have money, but it's just at the point where I'd have to move some from somewhere else).

Posted by mike at 09:30 PM Central | Laptop , Software , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 07, 2003

The Apples That Look Good When Grey

Work was work. I had to figure out some of the idiosyncracies of the Macintosh today. Actually, I suppose I was just re-learning some things.. Just before I left work on Thursday, I was playing around with display settings, and managed to put the display in an unusable state (it was a Dell/Sony Trinitron, not an Apple display). Who knew that 1280x960 at 60Hz could get messed up? Maybe it's something funky with the video drivers...

Anyway, I spent the first hour of my day tracking down how to fix that. You'd think that this would be a well-documented problem, but it took me a long time to find any information of value on the problem. I thought zapping the PRAM would help, but it didn't.. I found instructions on deleting some files by going through the single-user Unix command line, and they seemed to get me farther—but the display still went black about the time I'd expect a login window or the user desktop to pop up.

Finally, the problem was solved by doing a “safe boot” by holding down the Shift key. Bah. So simple! (In my recollection, the Mac was the first operating system to use the shift key for this, then it was copied in Windows and DOS). Well, I still had to change stuff in the display properties, and I think I had to either logout and log in to get things to save properly, or I had to shut down the machine. At any rate, it finally did get fixed.

After that, my day was filled with cursing at software incompatibilities, discovering that an ancient Apple scanner is not even worth trying to connect to a modern machine, seeing an OnStream ADR tape getting sucked out of my hand into the drive (quite cool), finding that tape drives don't show up in /dev like they do on other Unix operating systems, and downloading the Apple Developer's Toolkit in preparation for building some previously mentioned software..

My life isn't boring, it just revolves entirely around computers at the moment...

Posted by mike at 06:58 PM Central | Hardware , Software , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 08, 2003

Improving Your Image

Hey hey hey! Finally got a scanner going at work today. A Jade2 made by Linotype-Hell (yes, that was a real company—though it was probably bought out by Umax at some point). So, I was really happy, until I connected the scanner to another computer. The thing just refused to work with the software I had. Bah.

Well, that other computer has different stuff on it, and lots of things are proving to be incompatible. Then again, at least one thing is working on that machine that isn't working on the other one (hey, they fixed a bug.. woo!)

I'm considering getting a DV camera, though I suppose I probably won't. I hardly ever take still pictures, and find very little need to do movies, but it would be fun to play with video editing. Well, I suppose if I come across a cheap one...

Heh, of course, it would be really fun to get one of those HDTV cameras, though they only cost $3000 or so ;-)

Hmm.. I notice that there is a big mix of 24fps versus 30/60fps cameras out there for HDTV. Obviously, the 24fps cameras are for people who want to do film without film, and the other cameras are for everyone else. I just wonder if some people are going to feel pissed off if they get the type they didn't expect..

Hmm.. That train of thought doesn't make much sense. I guess it's getting late for me...

Posted by mike at 10:05 PM Central | Hardware , Movies , Software , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 09, 2003

They Must Have Attended Screw U

Attempted to go see Pirates of the Caribbean, but the folks at Block E don't want to sell tickets after the showing starts.. That annoyed me greatly—I think I will tend to go to other theaters if I can. The actual seating is nice, but the service there tends to suck, and who thought out that stupid bathroom positioning anyway? Oh well, I was not sure about how I felt about being near a certain couple for an extended period of time..

So, I ended up wasting time at Borders, and then went to Target with Spike and Erin. Picked up Weird Al's new CD, and was informed that he'll be at the State Fair. I may have to go to that..

Moved onto some different test platforms today at work. One involves the same model of laptop that my brother has, which is kind of neat. However, I ran into a problem as soon as I started. In theory, the thing is supposed to work, but I was greeted with the Mac's equivalent of a Blue Screen of Death. Of course, Apple decided that the crash message should be multi-lingual, which I don't quite get..

Anyway, I want to bring in my laptop, just to see if Linux behaves the same way as MacOS. Just curious.

I accidentally trashed the database containing my preferences and desired shows for MythTV. Oops. I guess I shouldn't give myself root access after about 11 PM.

Ugh. Hewlett-Packard has some really annoying Shockwave Flash banner ads on Yahoo now that use a ton of CPU power. Whenever I open a few pages from Yahoo news, my browser slows down to a snail's pace. Bastards..

Posted by mike at 11:13 PM Central | Erin , Hardware , Internet , Josh , Laptop , Movies , Music , Sarah , Software , Spike , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 10, 2003

Das Boot

Spent most of the day engaged in battle with a beige Mac G3 computer (it's non-translucent, what's up with that? ;-) That's a somewhat weird machine for a Mac—it has an IDE hard drive, but a SCSI CD-ROM and Zip drive (well, that's what the machine I was working on had). Unfortunately, that machine won't boot off of a SCSI CD drive, so I had to swap it with an IDE one.. And, of course, it's slow, so installing operating systems only takes a day and a half..

I hear that these boxes aren't going to be supported by upcoming versions of Mac OS X. If that's true, I guess Steve Jobs must just be trying to make everyone forget the period of time between when he left and when he came back and brought out the iMac...

I hit an actual traffic jam today coming back from work. Actually, I suppose I hit two of them. Don't really know why—the first one must have been due to a crash on U.S. 52 in or near St. Paul, since that off-ramp was backed up. I hit more traffic as I got close to the Huron exit in Minneapolis. I've had to slow down there before, but this was much worse than normal. Can I blame the Shriners?

Everybody at work was tired today. Maybe it's because of the weather. I was shocked that it was (momentarily) sunny when I left to go home.

Posted by mike at 07:30 PM Central | Car , Hardware , Software , Weather , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 11, 2003

Mind Your Pedals

There was a really nasty accident this morning at the end of the off-ramp from I-94 to University Ave. The cops had it fairly cordoned off. A totally ripped up car ended up on its side just before the intersection, and there were a few other banged up vehicles behind it. I wonder how the cars ended up in that layout, as the accident seemed to happen before the intersection..

Listened to 89.3 FM the whole way in this morning, and they played some pretty good local-ish music. And I was reminded that they don't have to censor stuff on public radio ;-)

I've mostly been listening to 89.3 and 99.5 on my way to and from work, since they actually play music rather than having talking heads the whole time.. I really dislike the normal morning shows..

Posted by mike at 09:03 AM Central | Car , Music , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Not the Sharpest Cheese

Did I mention that I get free pop at work? I try to avoid drinking too much, just one or two cans a day. I do take the opportunity to avoid buying a drink with my lunch (just get a water instead), so I save a little bit when I go out to eat.. Of course, it'd be better if I made my own lunch and brought it in, but I've never liked cold lunches..

There is an amazing variety of stuff to eat in Hudson. Well, okay, the area I usually go is just packed with the big name chain restaurants. I feel bad eating fast food sometimes, but I generally actually need to eat fast...

Posted by mike at 09:31 PM Central | Food , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 19, 2003

Weekending

Looks like today is laundry day, and possibly haircut day. Might be clean-the-apartment day too.

I've really got to put more effort into doing chores in the evenings after work..

Speaking of work, it looks like I'm going to be getting to know Windows XP Media Center very well over the next week or so. The project I've been on is kind of up in the air, so we're moving on to something else for the time being.

I don't know much about Media Center yet, but I guess I'll soon be an expert ;-) At the moment, it looks like the software allows different companies to plug their software into some sort of a Media Center framework. So, for each system you come across, you'll have a different TV viewer, music player, etc. I think that's a dumb way of doing things—why not have a consistent interface? On the other hand, Microsoft would be accused of abusing their monopoly position if they did that.

Well, I've only seen the software in action for a sum total of 10 minutes so far, so maybe I'm just confused about how things work.

Another thing I learned/remembered from work: I'll have to be very careful the next time I upgrade my motherboard. For ages, PC users have been using a 33MHz PCI bus operating at 5 volts. The faster versions of the bus often require cards to operate at 3.3 volts, and I think the PCI-X bus does away with 5 volt slots altogether. I need to inventory the cards I have to see what works and what doesn't, and buy a motherboard that has the right selection of slots (many new motherboards have a mixture of the slot types).

With my luck, some of my most important cards wil only work at 5 volts... Well, it'll be a while before I upgrade my system anyway.

Posted by mike at 09:49 AM Central | Abode , Corporations , Hardware , Software , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 23, 2003

Insert Tab A in Slot B

Spent all day at work in the A/V room, mostly cleaning up because a relative big-wig is coming to town tonight and will be there tomorrow. Because of the visit, everyone has to be at work 45 minutes early tomorrow. Well, except for me and the intern. Yay for not being a real employee (sort of)! We even get free lunch tomorrow. Woo!

Anyway, I picked up cables, more cables, and more cables. Some USB, some Firewire, a few S-Video and RF, and a ton of RCA. I also helped the guy I'm working with fix up the wiring for the TVs, DVD players, and computers. Hopefully we will be able to prevent anyone from ripping out the nicely-done arrangement for a few weeks at least…

On a completely different topic, it turns out that, years ago, someone who used to work there had produced a CD for Lewis Black. Then, the guy I'm working with noticed that a track was missing on the CD. And calamity ensued, I imagine. Maybe it was because there were supposed to be 13 tracks. Or maybe it was because the missing track was about Wisconsin. Or maybe the CD copier figured Mr. Black wasn't annoyed enough yet. Any number of possibilities ;-)

Anyway, I'm enjoying my job. I'm learning stuff and keeping moderately busy, which is good—still waiting on that first paycheck, though…

Posted by mike at 06:50 PM Central | Comedy , Hardware , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 25, 2003

I Try to Help People And All They Want to Do Is Save My Life

Went home after work today, and even got to leave half an hour early. I wasn't really able to do much anyway, since outside forces were at work to prevent me from getting my work done.

I was planning to meet up with a friend and go see a movie, but I guess she made other plans since she didn't hear from me soon enough. Oh well, something Sunday afternoon instead, I guess.

Saw T3 with my brother this evening. Probably about as good as a sequel sequel can get. Not the best movie ever made, but it actually unfolded to be a reasonably interesting storyline.

Oh, my brother repeated the saying that the Terminator is the character that Arnold was born to play, since it doesn't require any real emotion. Seeing the unfolding political situation in California, I figure he might not be available should another movie in the series come out. So, I'm thinking Al Gore…

Anyway, I'm probably going to go see Johnny English tomorrow with the family, and will see something with my friend on Sunday. Movie weekend…I guess I can stand some entertainment…

Posted by mike at 11:39 PM Central | Family , Movies , Politics , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 30, 2003

Damn Lies

Still no paycheck gracing my mailbox. Whee.

So, I'm mildly obsessed with road safety versus speed these days. I come across websites advocating speed, and others advocating speed limits. On both sides, they really hit my bullshit-o-meter hard. I don't need to quote Mark Twain for you.

Only very rarely have I driven my car at speeds greatly in excess of the speed limit. I try to follow the rules, what can I say? I get the feeling that many Minnesotans behave similarly, as most traffic on the highway (well, outside the beltway, at least) travels within a few MPH of me.

The speed camp seems to indicate that most people pick a speed to drive, independent of what the posted limit is. While I know most people generally don't respect speed limits, they certainly seem to factor them in.

Still, the logic goes, increasing or removing high speed limits only brings the total traffic speed up by a few MPH. I would have to think that this varies from region to region, depending on driving customs as well as road quality.

The limit camp likes to quote large numbers for “speed related” crashes. However, the numbers they use tend to be overall numbers that include surface streets and uncontrolled highways as well as limited-access freeways, and sometimes the numbers include crashes that had more to do with aggressive driving and underspeed situations than overspeed.

Few statistics that I have seen are put together in a way that I would consider to be reasonable, directly comparable data. You can say that x people died on the Interstate and y people died on city streets, but there is important information missing. How many miles of city streets are there versus the Interstates? How much traffic runs on one set of streets versus the other?

Well, I suppose I'm just going to end up talking myself in circles. Time to go to bed.

For anyone who has nothing better to read, check out Minnesota's traffic laws. Apparently we do have a “keep right” law of sorts (look at Subdivision 10).

I didn't know that. Why didn't I know that?

I knew it was an advised practice, but I had no idea it was codified into law. Of course, the rules are somewhat loose, as it just says cars moving “less than the normal speed of traffic” need to move right. I've even seen signs in Minnesota for this, but I've really only seen them strategically located on hills.

Anywho, time for bed.

Posted by mike at 12:30 AM Central | Car , Work | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Another Day, Another ¬Dollar

Still no paycheck. What fun. It's looking like I'll have to head home on Friday evening or Saturday morning so I can get some money out of my savings. But, hopefully it will appear in my mailbox tomorrow and I won't have to do that…

Paid my rent this evening. I filled out the last check from the first set I got back in 1997. No longer do I have to cross out the “19” when I write the date ;-)

Posted by mike at 08:29 PM Central | Abode , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 31, 2003

Funny Money

The paycheck is still hiding from my mailbox. I suppose the envelope figures it has a right to live and is trying to stay away from my grubby fingers as long as it can..

My mom reminded me that I actually have a card that I could theoretically use to get money out of my savings account through an ATM. However, I don't know if I ever set a PIN on it, and the account may have gone “dormant” since I haven't touched it in a year… All I know for certain is that my card says “Check Card” on it, which is an outright lie ;-)

Anyway, I'll have to stop by an ATM tomorrow if I don't get a paycheck. If that works, I'll at least be able to avoid a trip home on Friday or Saturday.

Posted by mike at 11:28 PM Central | Money , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 01, 2003

Die Another Day

Hmm. I must remember to go and buy the fourth season of Deep Space Nine on the 5th (or soon after). Hopefully I'll be able to get one that has the bonus DVD (I've gotten them for every other season so far).

Hopefully I'll have money to pay for it…

I thought my workstation here had gone schizophrenic earlier today, as it was only showing the system updates available about 1/4th of the time when I went to Windows Update. Turned out that the proxy firewall I had been using for IE wasn't working…

I hate proxies. Well, 99% of the time.

I think that an Apple G5 has been ordered for us, but I have no idea when it will show up here. That'll be fun.

Posted by mike at 11:55 AM Central | Hardware , Money , Software , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 03, 2003

Trickle-Down Economics

The amount of cash in my checking account is deceptively high. I've handed in my rent check, and I have a few bills to pay soon.

I had been planning on going home to get cash out of my bank yesterday morning, but my parents came up to see a concert and brought a check for me with them. I didn't really want to take it, but I really wanted to go to the TCLUG meeting, and heading home to the bank would make it very hard for me to be back in Minneapolis in time. I haven't been able to go to any meetings for months, and was feeling the need to geek out with some Linux people.

I am going to head home this coming weekend, though. It's my mom's birthday on that Monday, so I guess I'll have to pick up something soon.

Negative cashflow sucks.

Went out to Ground Zero last night for the first time in nearly two months, I think… The crowd seemed different from what I was expecting.

I think today will be a chore-heavy day. Groceries, washing dishes, general apartment cleanup, etc.

A few months ago, I felt that my life was finally getting interesting, but things seem to have changed so much. Well, they're probably the same as they ever were.

Working in a male-dominated industry sucks. The fact that the only woman at my workplace is 60 definitely puts a damper on certain things.

Posted by mike at 11:59 AM Central | Abode , Family , Money , Software , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 04, 2003

Become One with the Static

Weird mind-block day today. I'm stuck between two different projects at work, so nothing is happening today other than random miscellany.

I've tried to get a jump start on some stuff for the upcoming project, but I keep finding out that Microsoft Office applications never like to print the same way twice. Also, dealing with the errors like “blah can't be deleted because it is in use” gets to be annoying (that error is very uncommon in the Unix world). I was trying to rename a folder where one of the files inside it was open, and the system got mad at me.

I hope my paycheck arrives today. That would make going out to buy DS9 at Best Buy much less stressful tomorrow.

Posted by mike at 03:04 PM Central | Money , Software , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 06, 2003

The Feng Shui Nightmare

I've come across some unappealing insects wandering through my apartment recently. I think they may be roaches, but I'm not even sure what they're supposed to look like. I guess I'll clean up the apartment a bit (amazing what can be done just by tossing out the extra “Super Saver” ads that end up plastered all over the apartment). In addition, I may need to get some fresh ant traps… I think they're supposed to be replaced every 3 months or so.

I mentioned the paycheck problem to my boss, and he talked to the guy at Alphabetas that I talk to. He got the same story that I got, that the guy thought that stuff had been sent out and that he would look into it. But I hadn't heard any more than that since this time last week. I suppose they might have the wrong address, but I know I sent the correct one to them.

So, I'm kind of freaking out. I know I haven't done anything wrong. Perhaps I haven't done enough yet to make everything be right, but I'm just trying to give enough time for things to work out naturally. Things are not working out naturally, so now I have to put effort into it, and that's probably why I'm starting to freak out.

Maybe someone's stealing my mail. But why would someone do that? Why don't they take all of my mail or do other strange things? Maybe they are and I just don't know it… The more reasonable possibility to me seems to be that my mail is not being sent. But why would that be? Ugh.

So, if it turns out that my address is correct in their system, I'd like to have them change it to come here to work instead, and have them notify me (and my boss, probably) when it is sent.

Ugh.

Posted by mike at 12:08 PM Central | Abode , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Postal

I went to Best Buy to get DS9, which they did have, but I had to ask a guy to go look in back for it. Unfortunately, there was no bonus DVD with it, though I'm not sure if there's even supposed to be one for season four. Anyway, I put it on the shelf and left, so I could more appropriately judge the situation before shelling out cash for something when I want the better version…

I got a paycheck today, for the first two weeks of work. The check is dated Monday and the envelope is postmarked yesterday. So, I'll call off the dogs tomorrow once I get back to work.

The unnerving thing is that it's just a check, not the fancy pay stub thing you get for most jobs. I guess that means I'll have to learn more about taxes than I ever wanted to know. What fun.

Posted by mike at 06:45 PM Central | TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 13, 2003

Modern English

The strange orangish-pink goo is collecting in my bathtub yet again. I feel like I need to call in The Ghostbusters, but for now bathroom cleaner must do.

I'm not exactly sure what it is, but it's slippery, so I need to clean it up every few weeks in the interest of safety. My best guess is that it's a combination of soap scum and rust from the water, but I don't really know.

I try to keep it from forming, but the faucet leaks a little bit, especially when there's a column of water standing in the pipe leading to the shower head. If I remember, I tap the thing that lets all the water flow out after I take a shower, but I usually forget, and it all drips out over the course of my workday.

Other than getting slimed, not much else is happening in my world. I've observed that the oft-shirtless guy living in my apartment building appears to have upgraded to a large Toyota SUV from his old purple Geo Metro. I just had to think, “People who still have Geo Metros are never going to give them up since they get great mileage,” and he went and got a new car.

So, I'm counter-controlling you all with my subconscious mind. Except I'm not. If I imagined myself as a bum, I'd be a millionaire or at least have a nice girlfriend. Yeah, think negative. That must be the ticket.

Oh, I'm also suffering from rebootitis (no, nothing to do with tits). It's a condition that affects long-time Linux users when they're forced into an environment that requires them to restart the computer whenever they install or uninstall anything. Mostly, the symptoms involve slightly erratic twitching, but it'll pass.

Posted by mike at 08:05 PM Central | Abode , Car , Software , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 14, 2003

This Computer Is A Granny Smith

I guess Apple shipped a Mac G5 seed unit to us yesterday, but there's no word on when it'll get here. “Seed” is a word that Apple uses much like other companies use “beta.” Therefore, I probably won't be able to say much about the machine once it arrives. I guess we'll only have it for less than 4 weeks, which is unfortunate, but better than shelling out the $2-3000 for a permanent new box.

The intern that has been working here this summer is expected to leave on Friday, so I guess we'll all be treated to Applebee's for a goodbye lunch.

Free food! Woo!

Er, I hope it's free (but it won't kill me anymore if I have to pay ;-)

Posted by mike at 11:58 AM Central | Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 15, 2003

Taka Taka Taka

A pretty eerie drive into work today. The fog was hanging just enough to make you think about it, which seemed to make the people on the road pay more attention. That was nice, so I had a less stressful drive into work, even though the fog had a look that just made me think, “Someone's engine is burning a hell of a lot of oil.”

Went to Applebee's for lunch. Had steak. Mmmm.

Got the G5 in at work. All shiny and aluminuminumy. Mmmm. Friggin' huge heatsinks, though.

Last day of work for the intern—he's heading to Rochester in a week to start a “co-op” there. It's really just a fancy name for an internship that IBM seems to be fond of. They must have invented it a generation ago, just to confuse all of the hippies ;-)

Went home early: “It's Friday in the summer. Go home.”

This weekend: shopping spree.

Posted by mike at 05:28 PM Central | Hardware , Work | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

August 18, 2003

I Just Crushed Woody Allen

Discovered today that the testing lab I've been working in was infested with ants. At first, I thought there were just a few, but it quickly dawned on me that it was a fairly big problem.

At first, I was thinking that a few must have hitched a ride along with the G5 on it's trip to Minnesota, but it turned out that there was a nest poking through in a part of the lab that was pretty far away from the cardboard box the computer had been shipped in. And, of course, there's no way in hell the box could have had that many ants in it.

Anyway, we had an exterminator come to attack the problem. Hopefully the ants will subside soon.

I spent some more time looking over the G5 with another guy at work. The CD-ROM drive cover has an interesting feature—rather than folding down, it actually drops vertically to let the tray come out. I'll have to take a look at the mechanism that does that. Definitely a lot cooler than the old panels that would just flop down to let the tray out…

We'll have to find something to run on the machine just to show how fast it is. The damn thing has a 1GHz frontside bus. I have not seen a computer with a 2:1 ratio between CPU speed and bus speed in ages and ages. It must just blaze when the right software is put on it.

Posted by mike at 07:56 PM Central | Hardware , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 21, 2003

Ooooo It's Soooo Biiiig

Lots of worm-related antics at work today. It appears that none of the systems I touch on a regular basis had any problems, but the programmers upstairs got their Ethernet ports shut off.

Despite some alarmist news reports to the contrary, the thing seems to be slowing down—I got about half as many bounce messages today as I got yesterday.

I got Bowling for Columbine at Target today, so I might watch it later.

Dum de dum dum.

Oooo! HDTV!

Posted by mike at 07:59 PM Central | Hardware , Internet , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 22, 2003

Eet's Pononced “Wirus”

Hey, I found a computer that apparently had the MSBlast worm on it, though it hadn't been rebooting itself (I think it was supposed to). Naturally, one of the last people to touch the machine was one of the programmers, who apparently didn't update the system…

Anyway, in process of re-imaging and Windows Update-ing now. What fun.

Posted by mike at 02:57 PM Central | Internet , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 26, 2003

The Revolution Will Be Digitized

Well, I guess my package has gotten through Des Moines. Maybe it'll show up in the morning, maybe the afternoon. It'd be nice to get it early, but then I would just want to leave early that much more ;-)

Of course, it's likely that my efforts will be for naught, as reception sucks when you're in an apartment halfway underground. Still, I hear that miraculous things can happen with $3 bow-tie antennas from Radio Shack (digital transmissions generally go in the UHF band). I've only got bunny ears at the moment, so we'll see what else I can find.

Now let's see if my “forward thinking” boss will declare again today that 4:45 is in fact 5 o'clock. Heh.

Posted by mike at 04:36 PM Central | Hardware , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 02, 2003

John Doesn't Know We've Secretly Replaced His Operating System With Folgers Crystals

Time to go buy food. My fridge is damn near empty, so I'd better go get some stuff. Considering that the nearest grocery store is only about 3 blocks away, I sure don't get stuff very often. I should really get into the habit of going there every few days, but I'm still getting out of that once-every-two-months mode.

Had some food over at the bunker last night. Hmm. I don't like “the bunker” as a moniker, but I guess “the pit” has been done to death. Maybe I'll call the house “the yellow monster” ;-)

Anyway, had food there, met Elvis, etc. Then I checked out Sarah's new housing. Kind of a tall place for vertically-challenged people, but at least that gives room for the hot air to go in the warmer months.

The couch there has quite a stench and probably requires an IV drip of Febreze for the next month to be manageable, though maybe there are some cushion covers that could be washed…

At work, I'm actually researching things for a Linux project, though it's still 5e|<r1t. If anything ever actually comes of it, I'll be sure to talk about it with people endlessly.

Well, off to find supper.

Posted by mike at 06:14 PM Central | Erin , Food , Sarah , Software , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 06, 2003

The Tax Man Cometh Too Early

When is 1/4 equal to 1/6? When the government is involved.

I've been busily calculating taxes today, since they joy of “self-employment” requires me to pay taxes to the federal and state governments on a quarterly basis. I was amazed to see how much more I will be paying next quarter. There's a drastic difference, although that is because I have only been paid for one and a quarter months so far, but I will pay for four months next quarter.

Four months? You bet. Somehow, taxes are calculated for January through March, April and May, June through August, and September through December. How they got this 3-2-3-4 pattern, I have no idea. Because of this (and the fact that my “employer” is being a dick about paying me at a reasonable pace), my taxes for last quarter end up being less than $900. Next quarter, they'll add up to about $5000. Joy. At least I'm only paying taxes on 92.35% of my self-employment income. Huh?

Taxes for the quarter that just ended on August 31 are due on September 15. That's two weeks of time! Craziness. I guess procrastination and self-employment don't mix.

I'm amazed that the IRS hasn't produced more comedians.

Posted by mike at 08:58 PM Central | Money , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 08, 2003

Like Little House on the Prairie Only with More Sweaters

The decree comes down: All computers must have virus protection software or be disconnected from the network. Ergo, the first step in all of our testing will be “Turn off virus scanner and try again.”

Bah.

I had a hell of a time sleeping last night, and this whole weekend was not the most restful on record. I'd probably been taking in way too much caffeine. By the time it wore off, I was able to sleep about 20 minutes before the guy upstairs decided that the best time of day to fully utilize his subwoofer is between 7:15 and 7:45 A.M. Well, that's generally the time frame when I like to get up—but I like to get up on my own terms, thankyouverymuch.

So, I was awake at some un${DIETY}ly hours today. I wasted time for a while doing a few things, but the number of potential activities was depleted rapidly. Lacking anything else to do, I defaulted into the mode of pining for a future girlfriend. The Internet is helpful for answering computer questions, but that usefulness does not translate into certain other things…

Now, off to pry some Windows Media Center install CDs out of the hands of the programmers upstairs. Ah, Windows, how often must I reinstall thee? Let me count the times…

Posted by mike at 10:25 AM Central | Software , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 10, 2003

'Cuz Stacy's Mom Has Got It Goin' On

Hey! I bought food today! I have stuff to eat! I even got some reasonable snackish stuff…

Anyway, the s00per s3kr1t project at work is progressing and taking up most of my time, but that will change over the next few days. They're still researching stuff in order to figure out what they're going to research. But, people are already saying “Wow,” which is good.

I'm hoping to get paid soon, but I'm debating whether or not to get going on my big PVR/TV project. Well, I'd mostly just like to get a new computer set up for TV recording, so my desktop's CPU doesn't get so pummeled all of the time.

Then again, it looks like my parents might start pushing for me to get a car (most likely used if anything has to happen in the near future).

Hmmph.

Posted by mike at 11:39 PM Central | Car , Food , Hardware , MythTV , TV , Work | Comments (188) | TrackBack (0)

September 17, 2003

Access Denied

Urgh.

Firewall cause pain. Firewall hurt. Me bash head on firewall.

Head hurt.

Well, at least there are a few free caffeine-infused carbonated beverages available here. Hopefully that will keep me from punching my fist through something.

i.e. The firewall.

Posted by mike at 11:52 AM Central | Internet , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 18, 2003

Sparky Kilowatt

Work was cut short today due to a power outage. Damn you, Hurricane Isa—Uh, wait…

I was hacking away on something with a coworker when it started raining. He kept commenting that he wished the power would go out so he could go home/avoid a meeting. Well, about 10 minutes before his meeting was supposed to start, lighting struck, the lights went out, and my computer screen turned black.

Then everything came back on. Sort of.

About half of the lights were dimly flickering, and some computers and other devices that had been powered on were fading in and out. But, half of the stuff worked just fine. I guess the lightning must have knocked out half of the transformer for our building.

I've never seen a half power brownout event like that before. It was pretty weird seeing some stuff working fine, while other things just got totally messed up.

Posted by mike at 03:56 PM Central | Weather , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 19, 2003

Where's My Parrot?

Yar. The good ship Akamai, she be adrift on the high seas. The wily RoadRunner nary can connect. Some o' me favorite sites be lost to the bit-bucket in Davy Jones's locker.

A treasure trove o' new software (a filly's undergarments it be not, alas) that I partook in testing was set upon the world yesterday. Two of 'em I dinna know about, and there be one I tested but they dinna release. I smell treachery of the highest order. There be marketers in them thar seas.

The winds will take me south tomorrow, as I go to lend a hand in the repainitng o' me parents' hideout. 'twould be the best color to hide a shanty on a beach, but I fear not so for the grassy lands o' Minnesota.

Posted by mike at 06:39 PM Central | Family , Internet , Software , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 23, 2003

Come and Be Unemployed with Me

So I need to start hunting for a job. Somewhere between now and October 31st, I will no longer be, uh, “self-employed.” Someone's taking a weedwacker through the division that I work for, and the location I'm working at will be shut down. (I knew it had to happen: We have free pop—one of the features of dot-com startups and other tech companies that have died out over the past few years)

Well, at least we have some warning about it.

Posted by mike at 05:40 PM Central | Work | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

September 24, 2003

Blah Blah Blah Free Lunch

Everybody at work went out to Applebee's for lunch today, all on the tab of the guy who fired us ;-) Not much else happened, and a few people have already started packing things up. Others are trying to keep at least a few projects at the site for a while, if only to justify our existence for the next month. I have mostly continued doing the same stuff I was doing before.

I don't know how long I'll stay there, but it's hard to say if my position will be kept around for more than the next two weeks. Fortunately, I did get a check in the mail today for another three weeks worth of pay. Too bad the Radisson parking lot was too busy for me to stop into TCF, and the TCF by Target was closed by the time I got there (and I didn't have a pen to use the ATM).

Shouldn't these people want my money? Bah.

Anyway, I suppose I'll have to take a half day at some point so I can drop by the U's career center to thumb through job postings.

Two of the guys at the site seem to be ready to start scheming about setting up a new business. They were both co-founders of Trillium, the company that was there before Adaptec bought them (hmm, Googling around now, I see that there are at least two tech companies using the name Trillium now, though I don't think they're related at all).

Posted by mike at 08:12 PM Central | Money , Work | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

September 25, 2003

No Workie

I intended to get real work done today, but ended up mostly just tearing down unneeded computers, cabling, and whatnot. The other two guys I usually work with had been working hard at taking down the lab where they do most of their stuff. I've been elsewhere, just because the testing I've been doing requires access to TV signals.

I had planned to take the tear-down process slowly, but those two were just so gung-ho about it that I felt I should do my part. Now that most of the extra junk is gone from my work area, I think I'll be able to concentrate on doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

But, of course, the general mood at work is not so great. It's difficult to focus on anything, so it's hard to say if I'll get any real work done tomorrow and next week.

Ugh, I'm tired. Time for bed.

Posted by mike at 11:41 PM Central | Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 26, 2003

Cover Your Hand

I was watching a bit of Logan's Run on DVD today. I was, uh, testing. Yeah, that's it. But, I wasn't paying enough attention to really justify watching the whole thing. Anyway, it's only worth mentioning because the architecture/interior design that they used reminded me a lot of how malls used to look when I was a kid. A Very Brady Feel, I would say…

Hmm. I should do stuff.

Posted by mike at 01:37 PM Central | Movies , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 28, 2003

Beware of Cute Lesbians

Went down to Uptown again today, after seeing Lost in Translation yesterday. Finally replaced my missing Massive Attack CD—I think a high school friend had borrowed Protection years ago, but I guess he never gave it back. Then again, I never paid him the $20 I was supposed to for that broken portable CD player.

I got some other music too, and tried out the Chipotle in the neighborhood (they just keep pulling me back in). Amazingly enough, they actually have their own parking lot! Shock of shocks. It was also nifty to discover that it's right across the street from the Brave New Workshop. I might have to go see their current project, Total Recall 2: The Governator.

Hmm. Did anyone see the TV ad that had Jesse in it, making fun of the California stuff? I don't even remember what product it was marketing.

Another TV ad that sticks in my head is this recent Pier 1 ad with Kirstie Alley in it, wearing some clothes that look disturbingly like Scientology uniforms. I have no idea if that's intentional or what…

In other news, I need someone to drop me a LiveJournal code, so I can make an account to see people's protected entries. I still plan to use my own website for journaling, although Movable Type seems to be a bit slow now that I have several hundred entries…

Posted by mike at 03:07 PM Central | Brian D , Food , Internet , Movies , Music , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 01, 2003

I2C Or Not I2C, That Is the Question

Looked at some documentation I probably have no right to see, and then tried to muck with code I probably have no right to fiddle with. Oh well, I still couldn't get it to work. I just hope I haven't burnt out anything…

A potential new job was outlined to me today. However, because it involves people currently employed by Adaptec, nothing can even start happening until November.

This requires debate.

My car's speedometer cable (I believe) is making squeaking and rubbing noises. The car made noise last winter, but I never did anything about it. The noise went away over the summer, but over the last month on days when it's been cold, the noise has returned. A little strategically placed grease should do the trick, but I'm not so sure I feel like dismantling a dashboard (though this really shouldn't be hard at all).

Posted by mike at 06:48 PM Central | Car , Software , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 02, 2003

Brought to You by Glagnar's Human Rinds

Hmm. Interesting.

A possible response by TV networks to PVR devices such as TiVo is a simple one: change the name of your TV shows. This week, people who have machines set up to record “Enterprise” won't get anything. The name of the show has been changed to “Star Trek: Enterprise.”

Before you know it, TV shows will have names resembling subject lines of junk mail messages ;-)

I figured out the problem I was working on yesterday. Mostly, the solution involved plugging in a thing I forgot to plug in last week. Doh.

We went through and moved a bunch of USB and SCSI stuff off of the shelves at work, and then took down the shelves. Our main storage closet is very empty now.

At least I got paid yesterday :-D

Posted by mike at 09:15 PM Central | Hardware , MythTV , Software , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 03, 2003

Epoch Shakur

It's the end of an era. Granted, the era was only a few months long…

The TiVo has been disconnected at work, and the big TVs have been put back in their original boxes. However, we have no shortage of computer monitors. I estimate that there are 100 functional displays at that place. Not bad for a site with a dozen people ;-)

Otherwise, not much…

Samwise Gamgee

A brave and loyal associate full of optimism, you remain true to your friends and their efforts, to whatever end.

Edit: I took the test a few times, changing variables that I think would be affected by my mood rather than my ethics. Other possibilities: Legolas Greenleaf and Gandalf from LoTR, as well as Marcus Cole and Delenn from B5.

Yeah, that's cheating.

Posted by mike at 07:56 PM Central | Movies , TV , Work | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

October 06, 2003

Think Dunk Tank

I got Think Tank by Blur the other day. The first time I listened to it, I thought it was amazing. The second time, not so much. However, I can't seem to stay away from the melodies and sound mixes of the disc for very long.

“Try Blur—It's Highly Addictive™”

For some reason, I really like the song “Faint” by Linkin Park (I must be losing it). I imagine the rest of the songs on that disc are probably not to my liking, so I must spend some time compiling one of those P2P clients to find out for certain.

The program I had been using a few months ago has become pretty difficult to set up and use, so I haven't been downloading much music for most of this year. Well, plus I'm weak-willed when authority figures tell me I'm doing something wrong…

Yeah, I'd never make it as President.

I totally fubared a computer today at work. Well, it's not really fubared. Truly destroying a Linux box takes effort (hmm… though there are a few commands I know&hellip). I managed to put a lot of files in a place where they shouldn't be—residing in place of other files.

“Oops, I mounted that partition again?” Bah.

On a few random political points:

The only thing I'll say about the impending California recall election is that Gray Davis makes me think of Johnny Carson impersonating a politician. And it creeps me out.

Israel attacked Syria the other day. Everyone was pissed off by that, except not. Syria is one of those countries that the U.S. administration has discussed in the past with potential military action in mind.

Wherever they got this reinvented idea of manifest destiny, I'll never know.

Posted by mike at 11:06 PM Central | Internet , Music , Politics , Software , War , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 07, 2003

Where's Mothra?

Next Wednesday, October 15th, will probably be my last day of work. In addition, I might not work Thursday and Friday this week, since most people will be gone taking classes provided by Adaptec for job-hunting.

The Asian ladybeetles are taking over in Hudson. There are usually several crawling over my car at the end of the day. Some co-workers and I took a short peek inside Wal-Mart today, and one of them flicked one off. It promptly attacked my forehead…

Oh, and apparently you can say ‘fucking’ on broadcast TV, as long as you're not referring to sex.

Posted by mike at 06:25 PM Central | TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 08, 2003

Where's Dogbert When You Need Him?

A guy came into work today, apparently to assist in the shutdown of the site. It seems that he does that on a regular basis—traveling to sites that have been shut down, or that will be shut down, and handling some of the dirty work. He told some stories about how other people hadn't taken losing their jobs so well in the past, and just left huge messes in their wake.

I suppose the implication is that we are all pushovers for orderly doing what we're told, going down without a fight, etc.

Mostly, it just bugs me that this guy has done this at least a few times before. It's as though the company has a “shutdown squad”—probably not a bad idea, just a very creepy one.

Anyway, during our daily escape for lunch, we drove around some of the subdivisions under development in Hudson. I'll never understand the need to have a 45° slope (or greater) on a roof. I have no desire for my house to look like a church.

But, after getting pissed off by the appearance of what passes for housing these days, we drove through some of the back roads and got a hint of the fall colors. Just yesterday, I had been thinking that it would be nice to come back over the weekend to do a trip to see the leaves, but the leaves seem to be turning very quickly. The change from yesterday to today seemed very dramatic to me. Maybe the fairly low amount of rain we've gotten this year has something to do with that.

I think I'm going to go buy some more hardware for my PVR project over the weekend. My pocketbook will take a hit, but I'm really desiring the opportunity to have an extra system around to experiment with. I expect I'll continue using my main box for TV recording for quite a while, until I work out some bugs.

It's very difficult to do fairly low-level software development on a machine you depend on every day. I just need some more flexibility.

Oh, and LiveJournal appears to only be contacting my site every 24 hours for updates. It looks like their servers download my syndication feed at 5:30 PM, which is just around the time I usually get back from work. So, many of my updates will appear to be nearly a day behind now.

Bleh

Posted by mike at 11:57 PM Central | Hardware , MythTV , Software , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 10, 2003

Mean Carotene

Yesterday, I took the balance of my lunch hour to take the highway down to River Falls, both to take in some of the fall colors and just to answer the question of “how long does it take to get there?” It's barely ten minutes from my workplace, amazingly enough. I had so many friends go there for college, and I might have visited them if I knew it was so close (well, if I had a car at that time…)

I was driving along thinking, “Man, they make great roads in Wisconsin,” until I hit the city limits and felt the cheap asphalt buckling like crazy. Still, it's a pretty nice drive most of the way.

Today, I took a tour up to Stillwater and back again, to see the difference between the green trees a few weeks ago, and the colorized versions now. The traffic told me that I wasn't the only one with that idea ;-)

Hmm… It's been a while since I've seen some people who now have haircuts. Maybe I'll see them tonight.

Posted by mike at 02:19 PM Central | Car , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 13, 2003

Instruments of Death

Spent some time at work this morning determining the terminal velocity of 800-page reference manuals sliding down a tarp. Yeah, this building doesn't have an elevator, so we tried to make a chute to get everything to the front door. It sort of worked. We'd hoped to get it all of the way to the door, but ended up just using it to have books land somewhat more softly than if they'd just been dropped straight to the floor.

Last night, I got high-def video playing back at full framerate 99% of the time on my new machine. Mostly, I just went into the BIOS and told it to load “performance” settings. However, doing that increased the voltages to the CPU, AGP slot, and RAM, so I'm thinking I'll have to go in and tweak things in more detail. The video still jerks every so often, but there are several reasons why that could be happening. The video stream might be getting garbled, and I'm pretty sure my monitor is running at 60 Hertz rather than the 59.94 Hz that is appropriate for TV. I think I'm going to see if I can convince my monitor to work at 1920x1440 interlaced, hopefully it will go at the proper 29.97/59.94 frequency.

A coworker got sick of the “I ♥ my Cub” stickers everywhere, so he went and found the appropriate font on some random disc he had, and made a few things saying simply “Cub sucks.”

Okay, it doesn't sound like much, but the font really makes the whole thing come together…

Posted by mike at 04:02 PM Central | Comedy , Hardware , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 14, 2003

One Headlight (sort of)

I had a minor incident with my car yesterday. I was just a few blocks from home, driving down 4th St when I got stuck behind a moving van-style truck trying to turn onto the I-35W exit ramp. I guess the ramp lights must have been turned on, because he didn't go forward like I expected, and one of the posts hanging down in back of the truck clipped my headlamp and hood.

The damage is minor, but a quick glance at part prices on the Internet did not make me happy. Presumably, junkyard parts would be a lot cheaper (plus, I don't necessarily need to replace the hood, though it would be nice to have it look normal). Anyway, I'll get the car looked at on Thursday or Friday, and get the headlamp replaced as quickly as I can (though, amazingly, neither bulb broke—just the glass enclosure). I'm still thinking about what I want to do about the hood.

I brought my new computer to work today, just to see how well it works with a moderately good rooftop antenna. I could pick up a signal on every channel, though a few of them didn't always work very well. I'm not sure if that's due to a poor cable or what. I know that the analog channels had some pretty nasty junk pop up from time to time. Anyway, in a few days, I hope to bring the system down to my parents' place and see what sort of a signal I get there. On good days, they probably get as good or better reception than we have in Hudson (my parents have a bigger antenna and an amplifier), but it's hard to say how powerful the digital stations are in comparison…

Lots more stuff going into the dumpster today at work, although things seemed to have a lot more value today. A bunch of FibreChannel cards and other adapters that should probably be recycled rather than trashed (actually, the whole dumpster is largely paper and computer equipment). However, it looks like anyone looking to go dumpster diving will have to sift through a huge amount of stuff to get anything useful.

Oh, almost forgot. I plucked a copy of NeXTStep out of the stuff sliding down our makeshift chute today. I'll have to see if it is a full copy of a version appropriate for Dan's NeXT box.

Edit: Well, it turned out that the NeXT software was for i486/Pentium, so it went into the dumpster.

Posted by mike at 03:23 PM Central | Car , Dan , Family , Hardware , Software , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 16, 2003

Shaq Would Not Approve

Yesterday was my last day of work. Nothing really special happened, though I just got my farewell handshakes from the crew there. Today, I started my job search anew, after stopping by Carlson to visit my old boss. We went out for lunch with some other guys there, and he explained some of the things they'd been working on. They had quite a time dealing with the Windows worms that broke out over the summer, but they had set up a separate virtual LAN to quarantine systems that got infected. He also mentioned the ways they're trying to avoid paying an arm and a leg for Oracle software. A quarter million dollars for a cluster of just a few systems? Uh, no thanks.

After that, I wandered over to the East Bank and did a quick search through the job postings at the I.T. Career Center. Not a whole lot of interesting stuff. Most of their postings were months old, which was pretty disappointing to see.

I wandered farther east to Tran Micro and picked up some fans for the new computer I've been fiddling with, though I had to backtrack a ways because I forgot to stop by the cash machine on the way there. I paid with a new $20, which got a comment or two.

For my trip back west, I took a detour back to the West Bank and stopped by Sarah's workplace just to see what's up. I hadn't seen the new system there yet, so that was pretty neat to see. I also told her that I'd seen Josh on the way into campus earlier in the day, and explained some of what he'd told me about our court case against Joe. Too bad it might get extended yet again, but it was nifty to hear that pretty much the Eischenses and Joe are the only landlords that the University wants out of their system.

I went home and tried to rest a bit, but remembered that I was hoping to go out and look for an S-Video to RCA adapter. I've been trying to get my Matrox G550 to output to my small TV, but I only have an RCA input on that thing. I have a VGA to S-Video and RCA that came with my G400, but it doesn't seem to work right. I don't get anything out of the RCA jack on it. I have a 7-pin S-Video to RCA adapter that came with another card, but it must be wired differently than the 7-pin output on my G400 adapter.

Anyway, I went to RadioShack and brought one to the counter. I forget the exact price the cashier told me, but it was approaching $30. Uh, what? A cheap (though out-of-spec) connector can be made with a few wires and a strategically placed capacitor. There's no reason for it to cost that much (the cashier said, “well, there's a computer in there,” and I just rolled my eyes), and I don't even know if the adapter would fix the problems I'm having. I'll have to lug my computer somewhere where there's a TV with an S-Video input, or maybe I'll just swap the video cards in my desktop and this new system temporarily (since I know that this card can do TV-out to RCA just fine).

Posted by mike at 06:17 PM Central | Hardware , Internet , Josh , Sarah , School , Software , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 22, 2003

You Must Ask Yourself, “What Would Boy George Do?”

Got an E-vite to a Halloween party, but I'm not sure what to do with that. I'm not a Halloween person. I generally feel incompatible with costumes. The most creative idea I've had would be to do the Tom Hanks character in Castaway, but Mike and shirtless is not a good combination. Especially if it's cold out.

I picked at the car a bit today, removing some more broken glass from the headlight. The car really doesn't look too bad, but it's unfortunate that the hit had to happen. I'm pretty sure I had been thinking “this car is in great condition” not long before the accident happened. Unfortunately, as much as having a pristine hood would make me happy, the cost of fixing it outweighs the benefit by a pretty wide margin.

Anyway, I picked the glass away to discover that it was attached with a few small clips, along with some pretty hefty adhesive. Removing enough of the glass and to put on new glass without damaging the (fiberglass?) assembly would be nearly impossible.

I drove out intending to buy some food (but mostly some beverages), but ended up buying the Indiana Jones set (along with some beverages). Now I just need to reattach my monitor to my main system so I can actually watch the DVDs.

Hmm. I could just attach my laptop to the monitor.

Anyway, my monitor is missing because it's in my bedroom attached to the new machine so I can play with HDTV stuff. If I had a job, I might just get a new monitor (actually, more likely an HDTV), but I don't. Hmm. Motivation to look for a job.

Still slowly slogging through the process of decoding the MPEG stream my digital TV tuner card spits out. Late last night, I figured out how to decode the short channel names used by broadcasters (like “TPT Wx,” “KSTP-DT,” etc.), and today I worked on decoding some more similar information. I'm almost at the point where I can actually seek through a stream, pick out the “programs” (basically subchannels), and demultiplex the packets I actually want. Some of this stuff just seems to be way more complicated than it should be.

I guess this is being difficult for me because I'm trying to go for a 100% implementation of functionality. All you need to know to decode a stream and watch something is about 10%, but the other 90% is sometimes useful. In order to do things properly, I've been slogging through a good portion of the 90% in preparation for doing the 10%. Well, this doesn't mean that I'm 90% done, just that I've already got a better foundation than most of the other software I've found.

Of course, progress has slowed today as I bothered to turn on my TV to see what was on. I Love the 80s Strikes Back took up much of the evening.

I Love the 80s Addendum: Snausages.

Posted by mike at 11:04 PM Central | Car , Hardware , Movies , Software , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 21, 2004

Ignoreland

I tried to get myself back into a good sleep cycle last night, and failed miserably. I'll have to try again tonight and then maybe try to exercise in the morning to wake myself up. But then I'll probably get tired and go back to sleep…

I was sent a questionnaire for a potential job, which I have to work on today. I'll have to think about the questions a bit—it's been a while since I've actually done system admin stuff, so it's hard to remember good examples.

Well, in between my two night's sleeps last night (went to bed early, then couldn't sleep from about 1-4, then slept late), I wrote a note to an old friend of mine from pre- through high school. Ordinarily, I wouldn't have anything to talk about, which might explain why she hardly ever responds. However, I'd gotten a few newspaper clippings from my mom, and wrote about those.

One was about our old H.S. band director, who is one of the nicest people you'd ever meet, but has gotten a nickname of “The Grinch” because of certain warnings he gives while working (“Unless you want me to get grinchy…”) Another clipping was an ad for a Rochester bank that featured another old classmate. I did some hunting and found a few others. I think a few have gotten into teaching in my hometown and elsewhere, but there was at least one other bank employee and a friend who had gone into real-estate. Kind of weird, but he seems to be a fairly natural salesman…

Anyway, it'd be nice to get a note back, but we'll see what happens.

Posted by mike at 01:57 PM Central | Family , School , Self , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Star 69

Hmm. My phone's ringer appears to be dead. That's no good. Glad I was psychic about a guy calling me back for a potential job and noticed his voicemail right away. Well, I guess I'll go to T-Mobile tomorrow and see what they say. I definitely don't want to have to send in my phone and rely on my old one again (since the battery in that thing is toast), but I suppose if that happened, I'd see if there was a cheap GSM phone at Best Buy I could use for a few weeks.

Wow. All my TV shows are coming back! My system noticed that My Hero was on channel 2 again. Looks like they're starting from the first season. Oh, and I guess USA's episodes of Monk are from the second half of the second season rather than the start of the third. For my geeky/intellectual side, Frontline is back too. They just had an episode about “The Teenage Brain” where they talked to some people at UMN. And, I found out that I was entirely right to sleep so much when I was a teenager. On average, one lady said, teens need 9 ¼ hours of sleep a night. I think the only number any of my friends knew back then was 8, “if you're lazy&hellip”

Posted by mike at 07:05 PM Central | Hardware , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 22, 2004

Pop Will Eat Itself

I decided to stop trying to go back to sleep at around 7 this morning, and then I even did a little exercising. Blech. I've been sitting around way too much lately.

Hmm. Time to find the appropriate tax forms today, methinks.

I think I'll have to travel somewhere next fall/winter…

Posted by mike at 01:38 PM Central | Money , Self , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 28, 2004

Become One with the Frost

Damn. It's a novel thing when I actually need to turn up the thermostat in my apartment. 12 below? Yep, that'll do it. I guess it was -31° in Fargo yesterday morning.

A job would be nice about now, even if it meant standing out in the cold in the morning…

Posted by mike at 08:59 PM Central | Weather , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 29, 2004

The Ax-Man Cometh

Ugh. I know I messed up my taxes. Scratch that—TurboTax messed up my taxes by being idiots. Not figuring self-employment tax… Goddammit…

On the upside, I can get over $500 back in property taxes for being a poor little renter. The downside to that is that I won't get money back until August.

I hate the fact that my taxes are simple in actuality, only with about six or eight dollar figures that go in to the equation (they'd be even simpler if I hadn't gotten a new job), but so complicated in practice.

Looking at the federal picture, say we have adjusted gross income (AGI) and self-employment income (SI), with some federal withholding (FW) and federal estimated tax payments (FP) already in the government's hands. I qualify for the standard $4750 and $3050 deductions that apply to a guy like me, and I was in the $6000–28,000 bracket, meaning I had a base tax of $600 and a rate of 15%. Self-employment tax is applied to 92.35% of self-employment income, and is 15.3%.

So, my standard income tax from gross income is

(AGI−4050−3050−6000)×0.15 + 600 = GIT

And my self-employment tax is

SI×0.9235×0.153 = SIT

The total amount I owe to the feds would be

GIT+SIT-FW-FP

So, TurboTax wants to forget about the second (important) bit and charge me $20. Bah. I should have just done it on paper.

Posted by mike at 01:56 AM Central | Money , Work | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

February 03, 2004

And the Ax-Man Taketh Away

I can't sleep. I've stayed up way too late for a few nights, mucking around on the Internet. I finally got my taxes sent in, though things still didn't go right. H&R Block's website never let me file anything at all, and TurboTax's site kept complaining that I couldn't re-e-file before I fixed errors on my Minnesota tax return (my Minnesota return filed perfectly—it was the federal return that had problems).

I tried TurboTax's technical help chat to try to fix my problem. I went through three different agents, and they all just magically disappeared on me. But, even before I got online with the first one, I'd pretty much decided to do things on paper. I started downloading form after form, while waiting for the agents to come online. No, I can't do 1040A, I have to start over on the 1040. Oh, I need to do both schedule C and schedule ES. What's this 2210 thing? Hmm. Well, I just filled out the form, and in the end, it told me that I don't need to fill it out. Thanks.

So, I got all the numbers down. They didn't quite jive with what H&R Block had calculated, but it was within about 1%. I printed out my completed forms (fill-in forms are pretty neat), and wrote out my check. I dropped it in the mail a good two and a half hours before the next scheduled pickup.

I got back to my apartment, sat down, and realized I forgot to sign the forms (since they were the neat fill-in and print-out forms). At about 2:45 this morning, I realized I'd forgotten to include a W-2.

*sigh*

Well, at least it's not the end of the world. The W-2 information was filed by the University, and I definitely did sign the check. They should be happy enough with that, since it about halves my checking account at the moment. I suppose I'll call the IRS hotline sometime, though. Plus, one of the fields on the fill-in form was my phone number, so I might end up having them call me…

It's just around times like these that I really wish I had a girlfriend to get my mind off things.

Posted by mike at 03:26 AM Central | Money , Self , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 10, 2004

Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't

I got a call yesterday for a job where I'd be working third shift, by myself, supporting offshored IT workers. I could probably handle having a job that had just one or two of those aspects, but not all three.

My dad and I will probably be driving down to Kentucky this weekend to visit my grandparents down there. My grandmother broke her hip recently, so we'll visit her and keep my grandfather company at home.

Posted by mike at 11:54 AM Central | Family , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 25, 2004

Old Is New Again

Okay, I lied. My computer is still analyzing music. I had forgotten that I copied most of Dan's music collection off the living room computer one time, and I'd also copied some music back when I worked at CSOM (unfortunately, most of that turned out to be jazz, which I wasn't a huge fan of…) But, I think it'll be done soon (/me crosses fingers).

I need to find a program to tweak the volumes of the songs on my computer though. iTunes does this automatically, but my old player doesn't have this functionality built in. There are some plugins I can use, but one I tried in the past didn't pre-analyze the songs—it only went on the moment-to-moment volume of a file, which just seemed to mess things up more (and is generally not what I want anyway—I complained about this type of behavior the other day). There are some other tools I can try, but I'm not sure how well they work.

Anyway, this analyzer program is still doing a fairly good job so far. Having more music available to go between helps a lot. I've got something like 6770 music files (though many are duplicates or silly files), so there's plenty of wiggle room for the algorithms. One nifty thing is that the software is good at finding duplicate files. I've been getting files common to my normal collection and Dan's old one show up right next to each other in playlists. Sometimes the affinity for music by the same band is a little too heavy, though. I suppose I should just be glad I don't have a lot of stuff by Everclear ;-)

Posted by mike at 10:26 AM Central | Dan , Music , Software , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 03, 2004

Death Cab for Cutie

I might get a contract position with Medtronic for about two months. Theoretically, it would be server installations. We'll see if that works out.

I'm planning to be at a job fair at the Radisson tomorrow. Again, we'll see if that works out.

As a result of my going to the caucus yesterday and realizing that Minneapolis neighborhoods have their own meetings fairly regularly, I figure I should go. The next one for Marcy-Holmes is March 16th at University Lutheran Church of Hope (which is not to be confused with any of the other umpteen churches in the neighborhood—particularly the other Lutheran churches :-p ).

Posted by mike at 09:01 PM Central | Politics , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 05, 2004

To the Sixty-Nines

I went to a job fair at the Radisson today (er, yesterday, since I'm up late). The place was packed, and I got pretty excited to see so many people there. It was weird to see so many people wearing suits or at least slacks, nice shirts, and ties (like me). Given my past experience at job fairs, I expected to be toward the high end with my appearance, but there were plenty of people that went above and beyond. Only a very small number of attendees were wearing the clothes I'd expect from students and recent grads.

Of course, upon talking to people, I realized the reason: Sales. Bah. Everyone was looking for salespeople, and I figure the job fair must have been hyped over at Carlson (it would explain the nice attire, since nobody else on campus normally gives a crap about that sort of thing). I ended up giving out two resumés, though. One was with Accenture—that company kind of scares me since they seemed to be a big source of trouble regarding CSOM's out-of-control spending on their website. Another was Eschelon (that's with an s, not without ;-) which I'd never heard of before. One lady there was really excited to meet me. Well, she didn't really seem to be an excitable person, but she promised me an interview which is good. It would be a tech support helpdesk-type thing, but I'm open to lots of things these days.

On the political side of things, I posted to the LiveJournal Twin Cities community the Independence Party preliminary results. Okay, the presidential results actually scare me a bit so far, but we'll see if things change as they go through the different runoff rounds. However, I liked most of the other resolution results, though I'm not exactly sure what it takes for them to be passed (I'd personally only want the ones above 50% to really count, but that's just me).

Oh, and I got my computer to record Tripping the Rift. Wow. That was really excellent (even if God doesn't get killed in the end).

Posted by mike at 01:22 AM Central | Decision 2004 , Politics , TV , Work | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

March 11, 2004

Just Call Me Samir

There was a report on ABC's World News Tonight earlier this week about a guy advertising “Indian wages” in the U.S. and quickly getting 90 resumes for the position. There are a few odd things about the story. First, it's three months old. Second, I wouldn't quite call $40,000/year an “Indian wage.” It's supposedly half the going rate in the U.S., but I have to think that wages in India are probably closer to a tenth of what they are here. Still, I think the story shows that companies aren't appropriately responding to supply and demand in this country.

Companies getting overwhelmed with applicants is one possible reason why I haven't been getting any callbacks, but I guess I haven't heard much reportage on that. My joblessness is stressful. I guess I can dig into that savings account back home and go on another few months, but I'd rather not do that.

Anyway, I guess I'm just saying that I am certainly willing to work for relatively low wages if need be. Because my rent is relatively high for a single-room place and since I'd like to actually own a car sometime soon, I'd probably at least want $25k/year, but I suppose I don't even know what I need. That might be high. I could live without worrying too much, though it would keep me from buying neat toys. I can live without neat toys for a while.

Bah. I don't like talking about money when my friends, who have had to work all through school, are watching…

Posted by mike at 03:13 PM Central | Money , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 19, 2004

Maxuck

Yeah, the drive is probably toast. Fortunately, it appears to still have several months of warranty time left, so I can just get it replaced. Hopefully. I should see if Maxtor has any tools I can test with, though I figure the Linux kernel reporting various errors like AddrMarkNotFound is probably a bad sign.

I plan to go see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind tomorrow, probably at the UA Pavilion theater by Best Buy.

I should stop in a job placement agency tomorrow too. It's been on my to-do list for too long. I really need to actually start writing that list down…

Posted by mike at 12:09 AM Central | Hardware , Movies , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 22, 2004

10 Things I Hate About Your Resumé

Ugh. I'm tired.

I got an e-mail about a job working for the St. Paul schools for about two months. Well, it's a menial test-paper-grading job for $10/hr. Hmm. Is this one of the side-effects of that “no child left behind” thing? Well, I guess I'll talk to them about it if I don't get any leads in the next 10 days or something. I guess that would work out to $3200 (er, minus taxes and crap), which I suppose is two or three months of life.

Rent is going up here to $625/mo. Yay. I'll probably say that I will stay on through the summer, but after that, I don't know what I'll do about my lease. Such a stupid thing, only allowing people to get out in the summer and still enforcing a two month notification. Bah. I can't think that far ahead, especially when I'm looking for work, etc.

Stupid job-hunting. I'm no good at it. I don't like competing, at least not when you're in a winner-take-all scenario. Don't I get partial credit?

Posted by mike at 09:01 PM Central | Abode , Money , Self , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 26, 2004

Job Wars: The Employer Strikes Back

Yikes.

You know, I think I am being lazy about finding a new job sometimes, but I was really surprised to get a phone call today about a possible job at Medtronic that was initially mentioned to me back on March 3rd. I've got a phone interview set up for Tuesday the 30th now. Just a slight delay there.

So, once I finally land a job, the offers will just start rolling in.

In other news, opportunitygrrl is using the icon I made, which is cool.

Posted by mike at 11:45 AM Central | Internet , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 29, 2004

Computer Selected to be Secure

I have a set of interviews lined up at Secure Computing starting at 9:00 on Wednesday. However, three of these interviews are for senior positions. She didn't mention this in the phone call. Heck, she hadn't even said what the interview was for—I only found out that I'm going to be talking to people about four positions once I got the follow-up e-mail (though she did say I would be talking to four people…).

Well, whatever. I've sufficiently impressed people at interviews in the past that I've only ever had to go through the process three times, and I've gotten the job each time. They're screwing up my ratio by forcing me to try for positions I'm not qualified for. Either that, or I'll show up there and they'll say, “Oops, you're not really supposed to be here yet. Wait an hour for the interview you're actually meant for…”

Anyway, the lady I talked to on the phone made the drive there sound complicated, even though it isn't. I drove up there, since it's just off 35W in Roseville, and discovered that their parking lot points directly into the southbound on-ramp—exactly the direction I need to go to get home ;-) That would be a pretty easy commute, even if it involves I-35…

Posted by mike at 03:41 PM Central | Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 30, 2004

That's Robert Novak: A Douchebag for Liberty

Like that title? Thank Jon Stewart, though I have no idea how The Daily Show can repeatedly use the word “douchebag” without getting in at least a little trouble. Makes me think of when they forgot to bleep “fuckers” a few weeks ago. I think that was on a Thursday—the next Monday, Stewart said something along the lines of, “We thought that [with all the Janet Jackson stuff] we'd get a call. But you know what? Nobody called!”

Always good to know the FCC is paying attention. Yeah, they basically give cable a free ride, in my opinion. On the other hand, I think the broadcast networks can get held back a bit too much from time to time. Well, except Fear Factor is on NBC. Sheesh, I don't know. I'm just generally displeased with television these days. Just give me PBS, TechTV, The History Channel, Comedy Central, and Cartoon Network, and I'll be happy. Okay, there are a few other shows I like. Say, Monk and Las Vegas.

Well, I just did my phone interview for that Medtronic position. I think it went well, though I imagine they'll have more qualified people anyway. I haven't used some of the software that they mentioned. But, those pieces are only moderately important, I think… Still, the position is only a month or so, though it's theoretically contract-to-hire (at least, that was the initial impression I was given).

Well, I have some errands to run today. I plan to finally buy an iron and ironing board, get a haircut, copy my cable bill so I can get that deduction when I pay rent, and maybe pay some other bills. Hmm. I should get one of those 12-pocket folders so I can save my pile of old bills somewhere.

Heh. This was me yesterday:

Posted by mike at 12:13 PM Central | Daily Show , Internet , Self , TV , The Media , Work | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

March 31, 2004

If You Have a Question About Randomly Varying TCP MSSes, Talk to Laszlo

Duh.

Those positions that were listed in the e-mail were the positions of the people who were interviewing me, not jobs I was being interviewed for. Some days, my brain just doesn't want to see that left is left and right is right. Oh well. Later today, I will send a follow-up e-mail to the contact person I have at the company.

Yay! My bathtub spigot drips no longer. Woo! Spigot! Spigot! Spigot! I was beginning to wonder if the maintenance guys would ever show up…

Posted by mike at 12:49 PM Central | Abode , Work | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

April 09, 2004

That, and Another Piece of Coffee Cake, Should Do the Trick

Frontline had another good show, “Diet Wars”—the whole show will be available online on Saturday for anyone who's interested. Anyway, they just went through the basic stuff that any intelligent person who has read about diets should already know, but it's good to be reminded. I'm interested in heaing more about the theoretical Harvard diet. Wired magazine had a layout comparing the government's food pyramid to other diets out there a few issues back, but it doesn't appear to be on their website…

Anyway, the general conclusion was stuff that some people have known for quite a while—eat unsaturated fats rather than saturated ones, avoid refined carbohydrates in favor of less-refined ones. It's bouncing back from the Atkins craze in a way, dropping the saturated fats and bringing back certain types of carbs.

Oh, and another thing, it's often better to avoid things that say “Low Fat.” The Harvard talking head said that the pre-low fat salad dressings were better for you than the newer varieties. When foods went low-fat, much of the fat was replaced with starches and sugars, leaving the calorie count about the same, though potentially making you want to eat more often due to faster changes in blood glucose levels.

Okay, that's boring. We should exercise more, too… Yadda, yadda, yadda…

I got a call about an interview at MCAD that I'd inquired about a month ago… Sheesh. I'm still waiting to hear about stuff that happened last week, but something good had better turn up soon.

Hmm. Once I get off my butt and send back my broken hard drive, I think I'll set up my computer to record Best Week Ever on Fridays at 10 o'clock, since that's the one day of the work week that The Daily Show isn't on. The bits of Best Week Ever I've seen have been good, so I'll have to keep watching.

Posted by mike at 12:03 AM Central | Daily Show , Food , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 12, 2004

The Best Is Yet to Come Undone

A day of waiting for me. I have an interview tomorrow, though I guess I was hoping to get a call today from one of the other places I've talked to. Now I have to see if I'll be able to get to sleep tonight and wake up at the right time tomorrow. With my luck, the power will go out at an inopportune time and kick off my alarm clock.

Over the weekend, I had the random thought of asking out an acquaintance I sort of know. I wanted to ask Dan her phone number since I don't know it, but the opportunity didn't seem to arise. Oh well, the chance of her being in town, uninvolved, and interested is around 1 in 1000. Still at least an order of magnitude better chance than anyone else I've come across so far…

She used to work on campus, but that may have changed. I guess I'll try wandering over to the U after tomorrow's interview.

Crap. I have to find out where the hell MCAD is…

Posted by mike at 10:38 PM Central | Dan , Self , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 13, 2004

Fade to Grey

I'll never remember all of the stuff that happened today—not that it was especially interesting.

My late-morning job interview at MCAD went okay. Just okay. I think I've really lost a lot of my confidence in how quickly I can learn computer software, hardware, and whatever leftovers there are. The job would be interesting and I'd be at a school, one of those places where the mythical female is rumored to spend time. The job would largely involve Macs running OS X, which means I'd have to spend the first few months learning a lot. My Unix/Linux experience would be both good and bad.

It sounded like the job would be a semi-management position, where I'd have to direct others to do things. I've never really done that before. The job would also involve some significant amount of communication with other people. At Carlson, I didn't really talk to many people other than my boss, so I don't know how comfortable I would be with it. Heck, I know it would be a challenge to talk at least some of the time. I'm quiet—that's just the way things are for me.

Both the MCAD job and the Secure Computing job would require a lot more interpersonal communication than I'm really used to. Well, I don't really know. I got to be very bored at the Carlson School since I was pretty much stuck in a corner by myself in a room with a hevay door. I didn't have other people to work with, I just had other people sitting in the room with me. At Adaptec, I did more stuff with the other testing guys there. We all spent the bulk of our time in the same room without any partitions between us, so there was more free communication.

I'm certain that I do better work when I have to interact with other people on a daily basis. I think this is why I did better in high school than in college. I know that I've felt in the past that work should feel more like high school than college—at least in the sense that you get more interaction between people where you're working with others rather than just sitting next to them. Well, maybe my college/high school experiences were just weird…

Anyway, on the way to MCAD, I found myself to be lost and found at the same time. I was trying to follow the driving directions they had on their website, but ended up going by what you get on Mapquest. Instead of taking the 11th/I-94 exit and staying on I-94, I got off on 11th. I took that until I ran into a one-way and was forced to turn (Portland, I think). That took me to Franklin, which I used to get across 35W. Then I went south on 3rd (the way you go to Little T's).

I guess I was supposed to stay on I-94 and get off at another 11th—or the same 11th, if the road just has a break in it somewhere. Whatever, I found a new way to Uptown.

After the interview, I headed over to the U. I looked around in the Elmer L. Anderson library, though I wasn't all that impressed by the ambience. I guess it's meant more for researchers slowly perusing archives than the general visitor who just wants to browse through stuff. I once had a professor who was involved with the Charles Babbage Institute, and he invited us to visit the stuff there, though I didn't really know what you were supposed to do once you got in the building. Maybe I'll figure out the process one day.

I wandered over to CSOM to talk to my old boss, but he wasn't around. I wandered next door to see if Sarah was around, though I couldn't tell if the red-haired person I saw from the back was her or not (she was busy with someone, so I didn't intrude). I wandered back to CSOM and talked to a few more people, then finally ran into my old boss as he was coming back from the Hard Times.

We chatted for an hour or so, something that used to happen perhaps a little too often when I used to work there. He kind of reminded me that I used to have all sorts of new ideas for getting things done there. I had mentioned a bunch of different software packages to him for all sorts of different things, including Fink on the Mac. That kind of boosted my confidence in the possible MCAD job, though that's still a way of making OS X a better Unix rather than making it a better Mac OS. I showed him Wikipedia, since I've been spending too much time editing pages on there rather than playing with new code lately.

I guess NTS will be taking over CSOM's network in about a year. Kind of on-campus outsourcing, so it's possible some people at the school will lose their jobs. In the very least, they'd have to get some new responsibilities. Turns out that the backup tape library hasn't been getting used at all, though there are plans in place to get IBM's Tivoli working over the summer, I guess.

After that, I checked again to see if Sarah was around, but maybe I chickened out too much before I did an adequate check. Whatever. I went across to the IT Career Center to browse their jobs. Mostly outside of Minnesota, it seemed. Secure Computing had a posting, though I can't remember if it's basically for the same job I applied for or if it was a testing position. I'll have to ask them about that when I call tomorrow and inquire about my status for the job I interviewed for two weeks ago.

I chatted a bit with Dan since I was in the neighborhood. I suppose I should see his new place at some point. We discussed the court case against Joe too, not that anything has changed on that front. Still, when I got home, I had a summons in my mailbox for the upcoming court date. I don't remember getting anything on our previous tries, so I'm surprised that something showed up this time.

Well, that's pretty much it. Except, when I was walking home, I was thinking that maybe there's a criminal offense that Joe committed in the course of this whole thing. I'm curious if there would be any way to get the police to drag him in for not having valid contact info on his properties. Ripping down the unlawful housing notices was theoretically some sort of offense, but I suppose it's not enough to arrest him or anything.

I mentioned to Dan that it might be a good idea to try one of those person locator services on the 'Net, but I guess I wouldn't want to be the person to potentially sacrifice my credit card info on some random website.

So, a lot of mediocre stuff happening today. Not exactly one for the record books.

Posted by mike at 05:42 PM Central | Dan , Law , School , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 14, 2004

When It All Goes Wrong Again

Yay. Looks like the IT job market in Minnesota is getting worse. Best Buy is dropping and moving jobs. I'm not exactly sure what the “job shifting” is supposed to be. Does that mean that people will be re-hired by Accenture? Well, it either means that 130 or 780 IT people will be looking for work soon.

I'll call Secure Computing shortly. Hopefully they have some good news for me.

Posted by mike at 01:46 PM Central | Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 17, 2004

Fungible

Crud.

I got a letter in the mail today from Secure Computing. No job there. I know that I'm smart enough for that job, but they must not have liked the fact that I haven't done helpdesk support before.

I'm just sick of this crap.

Posted by mike at 05:57 PM Central | Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 22, 2004

I'm Coöperating

Not having a job sucks. At least the (literal) grass got greener because of the rain earlier this week.

Posted by mike at 01:53 AM Central | Weather , Work | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

April 27, 2004

Break out the Wite-Out

The University probably has the most cumbersome job application process I've ever come across. I hate it. And yet, too many applications are received whenever a job comes up that I would be good for. I haven't even been applying for jobs for a long time because the return on my investment of time and effort is far too low.

Well, not that anything else I've done has worked.

I'm trying to renew my application now, but the Word-formatted version (which would allow me to nicely type things out) doesn't cooperate with OpenOffice very well, and I'm too stressed out at the moment to fill out the preprinted PDF version by hand properly. I'm having some sort of minor claustrophobic thing going on because some maintenance guy is making noise out in the hallway and, well, I just hate applying for jobs.

At face value, the University's system would seem to be a better candidate than most for webification. Especially if the thing could automagically fill in my work and education experience from the U.

I suppose I'm just a weakling.

Posted by mike at 03:23 PM Central | School , Software , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 06, 2004

Oh, Fox. Why Won't Your Animals Attack When We Need Them?

Seen today on my Dice.com "JobAlert":

PLEASE, PLEASE SEND RESUMES ONLY IF YOU HAVE ALL OF THE FOLLOWING SKILLS

Cheeya, right.

Okay, actually, those guys weren't too bad. I'm just missing Oracle, Veritas, and about three years worth of experience. There have been much worse job postings out there where the requirements go through the roof.

Posted by mike at 01:45 PM Central | Internet , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 17, 2004

Pannekoeken!

Well, what a shiny, happy, sunny day (not). Yesterday was better, at least in the morning. I decided to try driving along the Grand Rounds, though the actual roadway isn't all that well-marked. I also didn't realize that the parkway (for cars) doesn't form a complete loop. Apparently there's a fairly well-defined path for bikes, but not cars. Oh well.

After a few false starts, I headed south from the dowtown area along the path, but I got sidetracked after just a few miles because of the AIDS walk that was going on. I had to detour, sometimes going around in circles and generally having to deal with traffic that I didn't want to. I finally got back on the right path around Minnehaha Park and kept going. I drove by the lakes, though almost got stuck going in circles around Lake of the Isles. Once I got going again, I found that hardly anybody cares about Cedar Lake, and I got a bit of a reprieve from the heavy traffic around all the other lakes.

I finally got lost again when I came across I-94 and a train going by. I'm not exactly sure where I was supposed to turn, but I suppose I would have gotten really confused if I got to the end of the parkway.

Anyway, I ended up driving south on Lyndale, then had to detour again because police had blocked off the roads near the flower shop where a guy got shot. I couldn't tell what was going on at all as I drove past, but I saw a news report later that explained what happened.

Hmm. Time to take a shower, and then I need to run some errands. I need to drop off some more applicant action forms at the U, get change for and then do my laundry, buy some food/beverages for when my brother visits tomorrow, and then probably some cleaning and a few other things.

Posted by mike at 09:48 AM Central | Car , Family , Weather , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 20, 2004

Fuel My Fire

Erg. I'm was getting annoyed by the guy standing out at the front door (which happens to be right next to my apartment) and talking on his cell phone. I hope this doesn't become a regular occurrence. Kind of annoying.

Anyway, I drove out to Eagan for a job fair at their Civic Arena. Took me forever to find it, since I didn't notice when the highway I was supposed to follow split off again. I found it eventually, after I figured out where Pilot Knob Road was. Mapquest didn't really do a good job on this one, IMHO. It told me to go along highway 55. I guess there's no good way for their system to know that Hiawatha Ave sucks ass traffic-wise. I took I-35W down to the crosstown and then took 55 from there instead. However, since I barely ever drive down Hiawatha, I decided to take it back up so that I could see the progress on the light-rail line.

Well, taking the train down that road will definitely be faster than driving ;-) I'm not sure if they've got the stoplights set up properly yet, though. I'm always amazed at the extraordinarily long lights on that road, and today was no exception.

Hmm. Gas prices seem to be on their way back up—not that I have to care about it for a few weeks. I filled up yesterday for $1.999/gallon (pretty good for being in Minneapolis proper) at the Holiday station nearby, and it ended up being $22.77. Actually, the Holiday station prices seem to be somewhat better—might be due to the reformulated gas they sell. More likely, it's just my imagination.

Hmm. Either the tank in my car is pretty puny, or the gauge is off and I actually have a fair amount of fuel left when the indicator is nearly on ‘E’. Whatever.

Today, I saw unleaded gas at $2.199 at a SuperAmerica near Eagan. I laughed when I saw the Diesel price just below that was $1.689.

Posted by mike at 06:25 PM Central | Car , Work | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

May 26, 2004

Ride of the Valkyries

I'm baffled by the crap that American Movie Classics has been playing recently. I mean, Dudley Do-Right? Come on!

There seems to be an emerging relation between this AMC and that other AMC.

Had a job interview today at the U law school. It went okay, not great. Might have a second interview next week or so.

I went back to the library yesterday and read some more about the old streetcars that used to go through Minneapolis and other cities around here. I read through the book The Electric Railways of Minnesota, which turned out to be a much more technical book than I expected. Rosters of the different streetcars, where they came from, precise maps of the rails and streets of the era, construction of the railway. All sorts of stuff that would really excite some people, but I think most would get pretty bored by it.

There's a lot of really fascinating history to the old railway, but the human side of the story seems to be fading away in favor of business details (not really surprising though, since that book was compiled in large part by sifting through company records). Maybe I'm just looking in the wrong places.

Ugh. I'm tired and need a nap. I think I need to move this fall to someplace where there aren't school buses driving by every two minutes in the morning. I'm off the main drag here, but the noise carries across the park, everybody seems to keep their cars here during the day, and the noise from the school gets to be annoying sometimes.

I guess this is what you get for living in the city, but I know there are quiter places nearby. Still, a lot of people seem to think that the city absolutely must be noisy. There was an entry on LiveJournal's Twin Cities community about motorcycles, and I largely agreed with it. I hate loud motorcycles. There is no reason for a small two-wheeled vehicle to make more noise than the average semi. Still, everybody ganged up on the guy who complained. Sheesh. Motorcycles can be very quiet, and there are people out there who actually like to have quiet rides.

Posted by mike at 03:45 PM Central | Books , Movies , Self , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 05, 2004

Another One Bites the Dust.

I signed up for Netflix on Wednesday. They shipped some DVDs on Thursday, which I got yesterday. I watched The Office yesterday, but wasn't very impressed by it. It was more ouch funny than ha-ha funny. I prefer ha-ha funny, thank you. Today I watched Spirited Away, but I think my lack of interest in the fantasy side of sci-fi/fantasy caused contributed to my lack of any real opinion on it. Kind of unfortunate.

I should probably recommend Netflix to my parents since they now have a fairly nice TV but no cable (not that they'd necessarily like cable anyway, I think). When nothing is on, they could just pop in a DVD instead. Oh well, maybe the lack of anything interesting on the tube contributes to them actually getting things done.

I'm in danger of overflowing the queue fairly soon, though topping it off would probably involve TV shows more than anything else. They're still a relatively sparse thing on my list, but I suppose more might get added in later.

We'll see how the three-at-a-time thing goes for me. I have a suspicion that this arrangement could leave me in a lurch on weekend. Netflix doesn't send out new discs on Saturday, Sunday, or postal holidays, so there will probably be a few Sundays and Mondays when I get stuck with nothing, but it's hard to say how quickly I'll go through new discs. This is particularly true since turnaround time also has to be factored in, and I don't know how that works yet.

If they send out a new disc on the same day they receive a returned one, if I send a disc in on Friday, I probably wouldn't get anything until Tuesday at least (fortunately Minneapolis has overnight shipping). If it takes a day for turnaround, it could be Wednesday. Of course, things get worse if the local shipping center doesn't have a movie. My parents are probably in an overnight shipping region, but it could be two nights for them.

Anyway, I might personally have to go up to the five-at-a-time system, but I doubt I'd ever need the eight-at-a-time subscription. I was thinking that my parents might prefer the four-movie-a-month subscription, but that might not quite be enough.

Well, in other news, my building is now owned by a new company. I have to remember to write my checks to them instead this coming month. I also don't know if the arrangement where I deduct my month's cable bill from rent (well, the portion paying for TV, not Internet) is still in force or not. It would suck if that went away.

Hmm. Time to skim the U's job website yet again. This job search is getting totally ridiculous.

Posted by mike at 07:32 PM Central | Abode , Family , Internet , Movies , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 11, 2004

From the Great Beyond

I was surprised to find out today that Accenture is incorporated in Bermuda as a tax dodge. This is according to Lou Dobbs's column in the June 14 U.S. News & World Report. There's also a Forbes column mentioning this. Of course, this fact popped up recently because Accenture was probably going to end up having the contract to handle the visitor monitoring going on now at U.S. border crossings. Looks like that contract may be blocked now, though.

I might have to mention this to my old boss at CSOM. They used Accenture for a while during the development of their new website, but I don't know if they still have a contract with the company.

The company has some fluff about “corporate citizenship” on its website, though they don't mention anything about taxes :-p

I also recently heard about a site called Onshore Alternatives that lists many companies that have contracted with people working offshore. I don't know how many of them are actually incorporated outside the country, but I suppose there's some overlap. I guess the name implies that there are alternatives, but most of the companies listed have some offshore workers.

Well, anyway, that's the PSA for the day.

Posted by mike at 11:23 AM Central | Corporations , School , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 14, 2004

That Means You're Not Ticklish

I finally saw this weekend's Best Week Ever. I was kind of disappointed… It seemed to be pretty dull this time around. Oh well, they can't all be great. Maybe it was fine, and there was something wrong with my perspective on things. I was probably thrown off-balance beforehand because the show on just prior listed Jessica Simpson as Maxim magazine's #1 something-or-other. Bleh.

Screw you, and the horse you rode in on.

Or something.

Ugh. I hope I get a call about an interview tomorrow. A good interview, where I actually get the job.

I called the friend I had tried to call before, and finally talked to her this time. I probably called at a bad time, since she didn't seem all that excited. But then, I seem to recall that she often didn't seem all that excited back in high school. This is kind of why I never call anyone.

Posted by mike at 12:08 AM Central | TV , Work | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

June 23, 2004

Hocus Pocus

Well, I have a sort-of job. It's “sort-of” because it's a semi-consulting gig. A small company that mostly does consulting but also has a software/hardware (firmware?) product. Well, actually it's more than one company. And one or two or three people outside of the group I'm working with also work on the software/hardware product.

The pay is crummy for a computer job, especially for a guy who has an actual college degree. But it's the only thing I could get. It's supposed to be a temporary pay scale for about a month. I should get more after that, and probably another raise after three months. So, hopefully it will work out. I just have to figure out how many hours I can actually count as work since it's semi-consulting. It's pretty tight for me if the first month only works out as billable hours or something.

Oh, and the system we use for counting hours (QuickBooks online) doesn't support any operating system other than Windows or any browser other than Internet Explorer 5.0 and up. Agh!

This is supposed to be a Linux company, but somehow they didn't notice this yet? A bit strange. Oh well, I guess they usually do e-mail on a Windows box or two.

So, I have mixed feelings. I should still be able to do job hunting, so I guess I'll keep doing that.

Only two and a half days to the Hiawatha Line opening. Yay!

Posted by mike at 08:45 PM Central | Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 27, 2004

You're Going the Wrong Way

More light rail randomness:

At the Fort Snelling station, there was a guy from LEGO there with a version of one of their trains with the blocks colored to look like the Hiawatha Line.

After some more reading, it sounds like the signal problems along Hiawatha Avenue may be due to the transit people being overly cautious and activating the pre-emption system too often and too early while also preventing traffic from moving in any direction in some cases. It makes sense from their perspective, but backs things up pretty badly.

I took the Route 155 shuttle dow to the MoA today. One of the drivers I had was a bit of an asshole. 155 is a boring stub route with just three stops (I think), and he was being very insistent that he only went to Fort Snelling and not any farther, though he should have mentioned that a transfer to the train would go farther. Maybe he just doesn't like the train.

Oh, and my route to work (once work moves to Inver Grove Heights) is starting to look pretty convoluted. The simple way to go is to do University Ave to Huron to I-94 and then south on US 52, but I may end up doing University to I-35W to MN 55 to MN 110 to I-494 to US 52. I've only tried the routes in non-peak traffic so far, so it's hard to say how things will go. 55 and 110 aren't freeways by any stretch of the imagination, so there's a lot of area where I can get bogged down by traffic lights on that route, and if I have to deal with I-35W, that would suck. Then again, dealing with the US 52 to I-94 interchange is a mess since it involves the nearby I-35E.

The routes are nearly equal in travel time, which surprised me greatly. The 55/110 route actually took longer for me by about two minutes, but I didn't really know where I was going at the time and I could shave off another few minutes by doing the route properly. Almost actually makes me wish that they'd turned Hiawatha Ave into a freeway, but not really…

Posted by mike at 10:28 PM Central | Car , News , Work | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

July 01, 2004

Walking on Broken Glass

Blech. The humidity has hit today, though I suppose it could be worse. There's still reasonable visibility around here, but things get hazy. I know there have been times in the past when I've looked up at the sky and just seen gray. No real distinct clouds or anything, just gray. I suppose that was at a strange time of day, though.

It might be time to turn on the A/C.

My job is slowly getting better, I think. I just came on and got thrown into an issue I really didn't want to deal with. Part of the problem was that it involved Windows. That project has been deferred for now.

I've ridden on the train a few more times. It's still pretty fun—I hope my parents can come up and try it sometime soon, although it still seems pretty silly to just go a few miles on it. Hopefully the rest of the line will be open for Christmas shopping at the mall, but who knows.

My mom sometimes comes up to the mall to visit with one of her friends. They just make it a day of catching up while shopping. I figure I should suggest that the next time she does it (which I figure will probably be next year, but who knows), they should take the train up to Minnehaha Park to hang out for a while, and maybe visit a few more stops. But, it's hard to say. I can't remember if my mom's friend lives in the area or not, so it might not be so fun for her.

The dead trees around my apartment have been cut down now. I noticed it the other day because there was a lot more light than I expected when I walked in after a day of work. I hope they plant something new there. We'll see.

Posted by mike at 06:59 PM Central | Abode , Family , Weather , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 02, 2004

Stuffing

/me bows to the A/C

No really big plans this weekend, other than to find some way to get to Harriet Island tomorrow for Taste of Minnesota and the whole Grand Excursion thingamabob (I think that's where the steamboats are landing).

Next weekend, on the 11th, my parents are coming up to go to the 72nd annual Norway Day at Minnehaha Park. We'll probably take the light rail line down there. I'm not sure where we'll begin—it could potentially be a few minutes shorter to take the bus from my brother's place rather than coming from my neck of the woods.

Then again, things might be different if my parents want to start at the end of the line. I'll just have to remember to get them to sit or stand facing forward when we come back to downtown, since there's quite a nice view of the U of M campus, downtown, and other stuff from up on the bridge near the Lake Street station.

Supposedly David Sedaris will be on David Letterman tonight. I should try to catch that.

Hmm. Actually, I need to catch up on some NPR shows. Hmm. And I probably need to find out how to get the newer RealPlayer streams going if I want to listen to Car Talk. Stupid codecs.

Work is going, but it's not hugely wonderfully awesome or anything. I made a goof earlier in the day that may have messed some things up that I really didn't want to mess up. Also, I'm kind of wondering if I will be paid a bit more than when, which is not something I really appreciate.

For the moment, the plan is to move into the Inver Grove Heights office on Wednesday, since the long weekend has made it take a bit longer to get Internet access hooked up than it normally would. Supposedly, it'll be a full T1, a concept which is so much less exciting than it used to be way back when. How did I ever live at 1200 baud?

I'm getting really sick of bugs appearing in my apartment. Yet another downside to living on the -0.5th floor. I guess that's another reason why I'm going with the air conditioner.

Posted by mike at 07:10 PM Central | Abode , Family , Software , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 13, 2004

NMRA

Found a big bug in software that I didn't write but am quickly becoming responsible for. It's really bad. I was packaging the bugfix earlier today and it will be out tomorrow, hopefully.

My programming skills are warming up, and I anticipate that I will raise hell on the stuff that has been shoved my way. I'll be stomping bugs, optimizing/cleaning code, but probably a lot of effort will go into mucking with add-on packages.

A code repository is Coming Soon™, but I think we need to get a CVS book first.

I went over to The Railroad Club at the U of MN to see their model layout. Actually, I thought I was going to a sit-down meeting or something, but they were working on their layout in a back room of the 1701 building. My brother was there, and showed me their DCC controller setup, which is kind of nifty, but there's only one mainline so far. They're currently working on a helix to allow trains to move up and down levels, though there's really only one level at the moment.

Someone mentioned something about Free-mo layouts, modular setups that apparently run on 16V AC current, rather than the more standard 12V DC that most layouts do. Apparently. I'm curious and would like to know more about that, but that will have to wait for now.

I'm tired.

Posted by mike at 11:59 PM Central | Family , Software , Work | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

July 17, 2004

Socket() to www.me

I'm annoyed that I got two calls this week for two possible jobs three weeks after I got this job. Well, hopefully that means that if my current job explodes, I'll be able to find something. My job is pretty good, despite the fact that we're crammed into a tiny office and I'm not getting paid much. Well, one was only a contract position, so perhaps I shouldn't feel too bad.

I hope we get into a bigger office. When the other guys are talking on the phone, it can get to be really distracting. At least I'm sticking pretty close to an 8-hour day.

Posted by mike at 01:33 PM Central | Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 20, 2004

Goof Off

Bah. I'm really tired. Work is cramped, which is probably the worst thing. I suppose I need to figure out how to recompile the kernel on this box so that I can actually get audio working. Stupid cheap no-name hardware. Actually, I could use a big rack or something to raise my monitors up to eye level. Or at least some level that isn't hunchback-inducing. At least when I was jobless I could take a nap whenever I wanted.

Well, I'm just going to be worried a lot until I have a decent level of cash in my bank account, which will be a while at the rate I'm going now. Hopefully my boss will give me that raise next month. I just don't know if I can depend on anything right now. Which is just a tad unsettling.

Posted by mike at 12:32 PM Central | Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 29, 2004

Cheerios

I did a nearly-90-minute support call with an Englishman today.

While he was in the UK.

Glad I'm not paying for that bill. I wonder if the $29.95 we charged him will cover it ;-)

And AT&T lied to me. I had to dial 011 + 44 + ..., not 01 + 44 + .... Whatever. Of course, I don't think AT&T is our phone provider anyway :-p

My life will become bug fixes for the next week or two, I think. Probably the simplest thing I need to do is not bug fixing, but simply making a configuration nicer (ie, DirectoryIndexing On, or whatever the Apache syntax is for automatically making index pages).

The product I'm working on (almost taking over, actually) is the reByte. Would I recommend one for you? Get back to me in two weeks when all the bugs are fixed ;-)

You can't blame me for version 2. 2.5, maybe (but that's a few months down the road yet).

Posted by mike at 09:46 PM Central | Software , Work | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

August 06, 2004

I'm Not Nearly As Think As You Confused I Am

I'd like to post a bunch of news links, but I've got to get around to finishing my UML presentation. My day has been really busy. I spent 5 hours on user support stuff, and didn't succeed in finishing everything I wanted to finish. Oh well, the installer for version 2.0.3—in which you can do amazing things like actually change your IP address—is almost ready for testing. Hmm. I just hope that my under-the-hood tweaks to clean up underlying code (which was mostly working anyway) didn't break anything. Mostly it was just replacing frequently-used filenames with variables.

Okay, you sucked me in. Some news/misc links:

Posted by mike at 09:01 PM Central | Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 12, 2004

Slow-Mo

Support took less time today (finally), but I worry that it's just because I caught up with stuff that piled up over last weekend or something. Oh well, support is a neverending thing. At least several minor things are a lot better. I suppose there might be one more release fixing mostly minor things, and then I can start on the bigger stuff.

In my dreams, ha ha!

Posted by mike at 08:47 PM Central | Software , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 13, 2004

Hey Look At Me I'm a Rockstar

If anyone is listening and can tell me the track that is played on the trailer for Jimmy Fallon's upcoming movie Taxi, I'd appreciate it. I know I've heard it before, but can't really place it. Seems like it must have popped up in an ad for a video game at some point.

Now that I think of it, it was probably Grand Theft Auto: Vice City—though I've never played that game and don't know if the song is in it. Hmm. If that's where the song is from, I guess it's not really surprising they'd use it to promote a movie about cars, bank robberies, etc.

Work was, well, work this morning. Tried to do my normal routine of support in the morning. I thought I'd be able to get done with that early, though I guess that didn't really happen.

It was my boss's birthday today. He was going to try and get his wife to go see Alien vs. Predator, but apparently that wasn't going to happen this evening. So, he dragged my workmate and I out of the office and over to the nearby theater to see the movie. About what I expected, I guess, though actually somewhat more plot than what I figured would show up. Considering the number of people that were at the 1:30 PM matinee, I won't be surprised if it ends up as the top movie this weekend. Not that it deserves it, of course.

Anyway, after the movie, we go back to the office. My boss finds out that his parents aren't visiting this weekend (he's originally from Alaska), which throws his weekend out of balance since he'd been planning on visiting Bemidji with them. Then it turns out that his wife had bought tickets already to go see AVP in the evening as a surprise. So anyway, I didn't envy him having to go home and make her feel better after the whole weekend turned upside-down.

Now, my workmate has got to spend the weekend in jail. Apparently it was either that or pay a bigger fine for his drunk driving conviction earlier this year. The advice my boss gave was simple: “Just don't do anything stupid.” I'm sure he'll be fine.

Sometimes it's good to just have a boring life.

Hmm. I noticed that Anne Hathaway was on The Graham Norton Effect last night. Yes, promoting her G-rated movie. That was kind of funny.

But apparently she's going to be topless in her next movie, so I guess it all evens out.

Posted by mike at 08:18 PM Central | Movies , Music , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 17, 2004

Rubber Band Man

It took me a long time to get anywhere at work today. Well, anywhere that I actually wanted to go, at least. I'd upgraded my desktop machine's kernel yesterday afternoon. It turns out now that I'd pretty much gotten everything right the first or second time, but some problems with our Internet gateway box caused trouble. Turns out that the Linksys WRK54G doesn't handle TCP ECN packets properly. Oh, my favorite little networking bug…

Anyway, for the longest time I thought there was something fubared with my network driver. In the end it was just a simple little tweak to fix. Oh well, at least I brought the kernel from Red Hat's random 2.4.20-8 up to 2.4.26 and then 2.4.27. Now, the 2.6 kernel I have trouble with… 2.4 I can still wrap my head around.

The old kernel my system was using had all sorts of missing things that I wanted, so it was good to start over. The audio driver for the onboard sound was missing, so I haven't had any music for weeks while my coworkers have spent much of the day with their headphones on.

One big problem with the way my computer was set up was that the Serial ATA driver would sit there pondering its existence for about a minute each time the computer booted. This tended to take so long that when I'd reboot the computer (unfortunately something I have to do fairly often), I'd totally forget what I was doing by the time it finished. It's so much nicer without that delay.

I noticed that the processor I have in that machine seems to be a HyperThreading P4, but for some reason I couldn't get an SMP kernel to properly compile. I guess I can fiddle with that later, no that I've figured out the most pressing issues. However, the most annoying thing is that the video driver I use for the Radeon 9200 video card in the box requires a recompile for each different kernel, and it doesn't like switching between different versions at all. So, no graphics for me when I'm doing this testing. It wouldn't be so bad if it was at least a Debian box where I could easily download the text-mode packages I need.

At the end of the day I finally fixed a bug that I had actually almost tracked down yesterday (I must have gotten distracted then or something). Oh well, I guess I got some support done too.

My car still seems to be acting up a bit. Looks like the oil is starting to run low. Maybe I should add a quart, or maybe I should just get it in for service a bit early. Well, actually, with the driving I'm doing these days, I probably qualify for the 6000–7500 mile oil changes. However, it'll still be three months pretty quick here.

Now it's hard to say if I'll be able to get out of the parking lot tomorrow morning, as they're going to be removing a tree next door, and will have equipment in the way. Maybe I'll just have to go into work early.

This Dutch Elm disease is sure going crazy, though. A bunch of trees were taken down nearby earlier this summer, and a few have popped up since then. Of course, the thing that probably annoyed me the most so far was that somebody broke down one of the small saplings at the park that was put in place of an old tree that had been cut up. It's hard to say if they'll replace that one too or not.

Hmm. The weather definitely seemed weird on my way home. It was with the creepy hazy sky where nothing has any definition and you can hardly tell if there are actually clouds or if the whole world has just turned gray. There's just no texture to the sky, so it just feels ucky.

I got some music from the Best Buy. We'll see if my purchase was really the least objectionable or not. I also stopped into Target for some birthday cards for my aunt and grandmother. So now how should I pay the 80¢ postage? Two 47¢ stamps is not enough, but three is way too much. Well, considering the time and effort it would take to get proper stamps… Oh, also at Target, I got some 12-packs for $2 each. That was sweet.

Posted by mike at 08:20 PM Central | Car , Hardware , Internet , Software , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 18, 2004

PHP Number 5

Our music server at work only has about 5 GB of files. Weak.

I'm glad that the potholes that bugged in 5th Avenue are gone now. However, most of the road is gone too—ripped up in preparation for repaving, hopefully. However, it seems that they haven't finished 6th Ave yet (looks like only one layer of asphalt has been put down), so I'm a bit worried about how long it's going to take.

I'm curious if the Gopher Motor Lodge will ever reopen. That building has been under construction for a long time, though it looks like nothing has really happened to it for the past year. They must have run out of money or something. I don't know why they decided to put that silly copper sheeting on the sides. Heck, the building might be green by the time it opens.

I'm trying to remember if I actually did anything of substance at work today. I got bounced around between so many projects it's not even funny. I was sort of directed through a weird content management system named Mambo. Not really sure what I think of it yet.

I need to do something to get my website working better. Right now it seems to use massive amounts of CPU time, which doesn't seem good (especially since it's not really my server or anything, and I'm probably sitting on borrowed time as it is). Unfortunately, the server has a somewhat limited tool set to play with. I might try getting things moved over to SQLite again, but some Perl modules barfed pretty badly the last time I tried to compile them. I'd also like to move away from Movable Type since it's not open source, but so many things seem to require databases (another reason to look at SQLite, I suppose), more extensions to PHP than what I have available, or other languages like Python.

Bah.

Posted by mike at 09:39 PM Central | Software , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 30, 2004

Da Ali G Show

I'm still getting job rejection notices.

The U is a tad slow.

Posted by mike at 09:11 AM Central | Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 31, 2004

It's How Baby Birds Would Get Their News

My mom came back from her trip to Norway today, and we all met her at the airport. My dad drove up from home, I drove over from Inver Grove Heights (IGH to locals, apparently), and my brother took the bus+train+bus option. My ride along I-494 was remarkably soothing. There was traffic, but I didn't have to think about it too much. I guess that's what you get with the wider spacing of entrances and exits there. I-94 between St. Paul and Minneapolis can be pretty stressful in comparison.

I guess we could have possibly met up with my grandmother and aunt (who also went on the trip) because they had to go through security again after they cleared customs anyway, but my mom didn't realize that too late (I can't blame her—I'm sure I wouldn't have thought about it either). That's definitely something that sucks about airport security these days.

Anyway, we just ended up going to a Burger King up on Hiawatha Avenue for supper. Now that I think of it, there must have been something closer on I-494, but I don't know the food options in that area of town very well. Unfortunately, getting back on Hiawatha Ave to go south and drop my brother and I off at the car again (we hadn't decided where to eat, so we just carpooled) was a bit of a challenge. But, we had a decent meal and were able to chat about my mom's travels.

She said that everyone over there hates Bush (heh, the president, not the band), but I'm not surprised.

I haven't grown tired of Frou Frou yet, which is awesome. I suppose someone will release one of the tracks on the radio in about a year, by which time I most certainly will be sick of it.

Most of the MP3s at work were encoded very poorly (well, for my tastes), so I kind of limit my playlist these days. Of course, poor qality isn't the only issue—my boss is definitely a practicing Baptist, and has a lot of sermons on there, plus some woship music. So, it seems kind of weird to see that sitting next to the Polyphonic Spree tracks I brought in (even though I have fairly mixed feelings about most of that group's music).

Posted by mike at 09:37 PM Central | Family , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 04, 2004

Congressional Medal of Idiot

On Wednesday, I went to the fair with my brother in the afternoon. I suppose neither of us are really party animals, so I guess it wasn't the most exciting thing ever. Had some decent food, though I was surprised that the chicken pita I ordered was cold, with a filling kind of along the lines of potato salad. Whatever.

We discovered that if you take the regular city bus to/from the fair, you get the shaft. It's much better to just drive to the U of M lot and take the shuttle from there. We had to wait ~15 minutes each way, and end up paying $3 in total for tickets ($1.25 there, $1.75 back because of rush hour—though we got $2 off on fair admission), but the shuttle was leaving at a rate of about once every 90 seconds. Other than that, the bus worked out pretty well, since he lives just off Como Ave.

So, I guess I'd propose that Metro Transit make the regular buses that go past the fair free too. Like that'll ever happen.

I don't remember Thursday at all, but, oh yeah, that's because I brought some work home. I shouldn't do that.

On Friday, I figured the most exciting thing I'd do would be to add some oil to my car. It's been low for a while, and the engine seems to have been running rough. It seemed a little happier with fresh oil added, but I should really get an oil change soon anyway. I should have just found a Jiffy Lube. I guess I want to wait until I get paid for the last two weeks.

My boss put in my time on Thursday. Fortunately, he changed the amount of time I had in the system up to 80 hours, but some of the other guys who don't have such consistent time sheets kind of got shafted for a day's work. I was thinking that I might get paid early, but with Labor Day on Monday, the money will probably still get transferred on Tuesday. I like that I get weekends off, but why can't other people work then? ;-)

Anyway, so after planning to do nothing other than possibly eat on Friday night, Adam called me and said he was moving out. So, I helped him move stuff over to Adam Nu's place, and then almost accidentally stole his laptop (or at least a black laptop-sized briefcase—I presume that was his laptop). It was in its black case, in the back of my car, in the dark, so it was kind of hard to see.

Kari is theoretically moving in with Erin once they find a place, so it's almost a wife-swapping type of deal. Er, or maybe nothing like that at all ;-)

Aha! I just found the little thing to tweak on my browser to get my fonts displaying correctly in Galeon again. For some reason, the mimimum font size was set to 4, but then there were two other settings that had been stuck at 14. That explains why I could never see any difference when people used <small></small> tags. Anyway, I just went to about:config (which works in any Mozilla/Gecko-based browser, I guess) and tweaked the setting. Conveniently, those two things were in bold, though I don't know why that would be…

Hmm. This might also let me finally fix the fact that pretty much all font sets except for Korean show up correctly (er, I think) in my browser. I just end up with these little rectangles with the Unicode character number in them instead of actual characters.

Posted by mike at 11:04 AM Central | Adam , Car , Erin , Family , Internet , Kari , Software , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 13, 2004

The Infinite Monkey Protocol Suite

I walked out to my car after work today and thought, “Hmm. Tornados.” So, we'll see. A big line of crap is showing up on the radar right now, but I don't know how much will come through here. It was a really strong south wind this morning. My car was wobbling around much more than normal as I drove into work.

Unfortunately, my workmate seemed to have a faint bit of that sickening type of BO you sometimes see on old hermit-like guys on the bus. I think it was causing me to sneeze a lot, but it might have just been hayfever or something. I seem to be allergic to something, but I'm not sure what exactly. It seems like a few factors have to be going on at the same time for me to really start sneezing.

Or, the sun just has to come out. Maybe the sunlight affects the nerves in your nose or something.

I went to Best Buy afterward and got some CDs. We'll see if they're any good. I didn't have any list with me, so I didn't have anything to search for specifically.

I want to get a PDA again soon, but I want one that at least has Bluetooth. As far as I know, Palm software still seems to work better in Linux than WinCE stuff (or whatever they call it these days). Unfortunately, I think my requirements will make the device quite spendy (and I probably wouldn't even use any MP3 capability since I'm a Vorbis man myself). I'd probably be best off getting something cheap at Target and spending my money on something important like dual drives so I can get RAID on my desktop (Yeah, it'd just be RAID-1, but I think I need something. Ugh, and I'd probably need to get a PCI IDE card so the RAID doesn't fail whenever I rip CD audio...)

Oh, and Wikipedia is running an article on the Holy Foreskin.

I'm not kidding.

Posted by mike at 09:16 PM Central | Hardware , Music , Weather , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 14, 2004

Managed Intensive Grazing

Ugh. The Linksys gateway we have at work is FUBAR. It only talks to the Internet for about 30 seconds before being quiet again. It still talks on the local network, just getting anywhere else is problematic. That'll be fun tomorrow. I wonder if our old router is still laying around somewhere. Feh.

I moved into an adjoining office today, which is probably why this all happened. Then again, the box seemed a little unhappy earlier. I've had to reset it a couple of times in the past.

Theoretically we have a static IP now and aren't stuck behind the firewall anymore. Maybe there's a weird worm out there that is causing the router to flip out, although there aren't any new firmware updates on Linksys's website. Not that that necessarily means anything—there are bugs in the software as it is…

I guess they have some big Sonicwall box out there somewhere, but the network behavior has been really funky. The routing paths in and out don't seem to make any sense—probably because of the firewall. We were having some really bad latency for a while, though it seems to be better now. Our ISP said they were having trouble with ARP storms. Fine fine, whatever.

I really recommend avoiding working with XO Communications if you can.

Posted by mike at 09:00 PM Central | Hardware , Internet , Work | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

September 17, 2004

Jennifer Tilly Versus Joey Lauren Adams—Fight!

The simple things about being human still continue to amaze me every once in a while. The interconnectedness of thought is one of those things that is both a blessing adn a curse. I had a thought process something like this today:

  • St. Anthony Main was an attempt at building a shopping mall in or near downtown Minneapolis (depending on where you draw the line).
  • The Twin Cities Area has some significant historical data points for shopping malls, claiming to have the first modern mall and the largest mall in the country.
  • The region's notoriety led Kevin Smith to film parts of Mallrats in the area (kind of a dubious distinction, but hey)
  • Hmm. Mallrats was her favorite movie, wasn't it—well, after she had originally liked Clerks so much.
  • Ah, crap…

Yeah, well, so that's still there, sort of. I figure she's moved on to a different movie by now, though. Maybe even something that isn't from View Askew!

Did I mention that the only girl who was in the office space we share with another company left a few weeks ago to go back to college? Yay for a job in the computer industry. However, the upside of that was that we got to expand our operation into the room she had used, so I'm significantly less cramped at work now.

Yesterday, I discovered that the power supply fan for our server was seized up. Other than a CPU fan, there was no airflow in that case. The power supply was an AT one rather than an ATX one, and I didn't want to mess with the stupid power switch on that. So, I went and got a new ATX case instead (which hopefully I'll be reimbursed for). Of course, the new case doesn't have any extra fans either, so the hard drives (which are the important bit) don't seem to get much airflow. Oh well, at least both sides of the case were off last night, so just the ambient air should be enough for now. We've got to get some case fans, though.

Posted by mike at 07:48 AM Central | Hardware , Self , Work | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

September 25, 2004

Not Quite Like Television

Heh. If “pledge enforcement van” ever enters a dead-tree dictionary, I will be very happy. I just saw a Village Voice article use it in reference to Wikipedia's current fund drive.

An advantage of my newly-reduced hours at work is that I will be able to be home for the evening run of The Simpsons. Too bad there still won't be new episodes for a while (but that's on weekends anyway).

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the fact that my boss has cut me down to 25 hours per week. Of course, two weeks ago he asked if I could go up to 50, so whatever. I have to do the resume dance again. This time I'm trying to use the XML Résumé Library. Okay, so no businesses care about that, but hopefully it will mean that I can generate decent text, HTML, and PDF versions without too much trouble. Hopefully.

And no Word format, I guess (but I think my attempt at that with OpenOffice probably just ended up causing trouble since the font metrics probably didn't line up quite right between OO and Word…)

And this won't help me when I have to re-enter the information for all of the fifty-thousand different job sites out there.

And XML usually means Java. I don't really understand why that is. XML and Java seem to both be for people who like to do things The Hard Way™ (okay not that, say, C/C++, is all that better, but whatever).

Oh, and Cargill's Talent Recruiting program is still e-mailing me about Administrative Assistant/Accountant/Clerk positions. Maybe if I tweak that entry of my info they'll finally pick something slightly more my style.

Hmm. I guess WCCO radio is turning 80 years old (well, there was another station that existed for about two years before then). Kind of neat, although the only time I ever really listened to it was when Mr. Boyum would have it on in the morning before math class in high school. AM and I just don't get along, especially since I have big, noisy (radio-wise) CRT monitors sitting on my desk.

Posted by mike at 05:09 PM Central | Work | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

September 30, 2004

Spinsanity

Turns out I miscalculated on the hours I've been working. I had been doing 6 hours instead of 5. I knew my day didn't seem to be the right length somehow. Anyway, I guess I'll make up for it by just having a short day tomorrow.

Kerry won the debate. Anyone who says otherwise wasn't really paying attention. But, in the “marketplace of ideas” I suppose you can think whatever you want. I think it's likely that Kerry will “win” all of them, but I don't know if it'll change much of anything.

Upon the recent revelations that viewers of The Daily Show are more on top of things than just about anybody, there's anecdotal evidence that post-debate interviews with the spin-meisters are getting interrupted a bit more frequently with tough questions. I guess the test of that will come in the next few days. If The Moment from this debate turns out to be a silly little foible, the media hasn't yet started to change direction. But, if something substantive sticks, I think someone has started to pay attention to the fact that American news media is a pretty messed up group at the moment.

On that note, there's a great Fresh Air interview with Jon Stewart that was done today.

Posted by mike at 11:35 PM Central | Daily Show , Decision 2004 , Politics , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 06, 2004

B to the E

Blech. I really need to find a way to block Flash advertisements in my browser. They suck up way too much CPU power, and contribute heavily toward causing Galeon to crash. There are bugs open on Mozilla's Bugzilla, but nobody wants to do the work I guess.

Anyway, stuff is slowly progressing at work. I have started work on install scripts for the next version. Hmm. I should probably start fiddling with User Mode Linux again, since that would speed up my testing quite a bit if I can get it to work right.

Posted by mike at 07:59 PM Central | Internet , Software , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 11, 2004

Rock with Me

I really, really, really wish that Best Buy would set up some sort of listening stations in their stores. I've passed over stuff by The Vines for months/years, but upon passing their new-ish disc under the scanner thingamabobby at Borders, I discovered that the first track there was one I'd been wanting to get my hands on ever since it was included in an iPod commercial. Too bad Borders wanted me to pay $18.99 for it…

My family and I went out to Stillwater on Saturday, just as planned. It was fairly nice except for the constant rumble of motorcycles and a few long waits for food. Once we took a few steps off the main road and sat down in a park area right next to the lift bridge, things quieted down a fair bit.

We got to see the bridge operator goof up and start lowering the bridge as a paddlewheeler was heading straight for it. Fortunately, the ship was still a decent distance and could reverse in time to stop, but I'm sure the radio conversation got a little hot-tempered.

After seeing the bridge come back down, we headed across to Wisconsin and went to my old workplace in Hudson. They seemed to be redoing the entrance. Probably adding an elevator or something, since there hadn't been one earlier. Hey! This Friday marks a year since I left that job.

Me standing by the sign for Adaptec's old Hudson Technology Center

Yeah, the sun was in my eyes…

Posted by mike at 08:16 PM Central | Family , Work | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

November 19, 2004

Kabyr

I have an interview scheduled for November 30th at the U. We'll see how that goes. The interview (and presumably the job) is at WBOB, which is just about the least accessible place from my apartment, due to the placement of the river and the Interstate.

Listening to BBC Radio 1 online will probably induce me to get a record player at some point, so I can play some 12s. Yeesh. Of course, that would require me to have actual space in my apartment. Well, they still play way too much rap/hip-hop for my tastes. Sometimes I can handle it, but in wears on me pretty quickly.

I'm getting curious about what Minnesota Public Radio plans to do with WCAL. The sale was finalized today, although it's not really clear if they have paid for it. The SaveWCAL folks have managed to get St. Paul to do another hearing about some bonding money the city was going to use for the sale.

Anyway, I did make some comments talking about what I'd like in the station. Since I haven't heard a selection of music I like on Twin Cities radio for a long time, I want a place that plays good new music, and hopefully with some dance/electronica/name-your-genre stuff. I want a place that will play Radiohead tracks other than “Creep,” and Cure tracks other than “Friday I'm in Love,” and … It's really doubtful they'd go that route, but it's still fun to think about.

There's a lot of other stuff I like as well but don't get much exposure to. I suppose bluegrass would be an example. Unfortunately, I think that the attempts stations like Radio K and KFAI make at this sort of diversity fall a bit flat. I suppose I'm just brainwashed by our corporate media (heh).

The Edge overplayed a lot of stuff, and I never really got a chance to sample Rev 105, so I don't know if I would have liked that or not, but I think they did a lot of community stuff that is missing around here. One of my main suggestions was that a new station should give artists a place to do live performances on a regular basis rather than the once-a-month stuff we get these days. How else can I get to know these bands when I have no money to go out? ;-)

Posted by mike at 06:00 PM Central | Music , Work | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

February 26, 2005

What would Brian Boi^W^WJon Stewart do?

Hmm. I applied for a job at Sun today, and uploaded a .sxw (StarOffice/OpenOffice) file as my résumé. If they don't like that, they can suck it (since they, uh, own StarOffice).

Bill DeVille is not my favorite 89.3 DJ. But, he's the favorite for some other people, so I guess I won't complain much. In the meantime I can listen to the dance warmup stuff on BBC Radio 1. Yay for the Internets.

Posted by mike at 02:51 PM Central | Music , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 12, 2005

Freaking Annoying Questions

Okay, when you are questioned, "Explain your method of troubleshooting," do you think that should be an answer for a specific instance, or something more broad? Apparently when people ask this question, they want a specific incident. Well, even though I bombed that in my phone interview today, it sounded like I should still get a call for an in-person thing in a week or two (unless someone else gives me a job first, anyway...)

Posted by mike at 11:20 AM Central | Work | Comments (0)

April 19, 2005

Oh, My Lack of God!

Hmm. Flipping through the channels and I come across Amy Pietz on some godforsaken show known as Rodney. I doubt the show will last, but I like her, so I'm glad she's getting some work (she was Annie on Caroline in the City way back when...)

I briefly turned on the A/C today to dissipate some of the humidity in my apartment (and to bring the temp down just a tad). At the moment, I'm not sure if it's better to turn it on again or open the windows. Well, we probably need the rain.

My car stalled yesterday at the end of I-394 (at a stoplight). I had to go the same way again today because I forgot to bring some application materials, and the car stalled again. Fortunately, after the car sat a little bit, I could get going again, but it's weird. Very probably related to the weird lurching it's been doing for a while now.

A total of four calls now for the few dozen applications I put in a week ago. I'd better put more effort into applying for other jobs I guess.

In order to print out my application materials, I had to get a new black ink cartridge for my printer. I tried out Cartridge World, which has a site a few blocks from my place. $13.90 for a cartridge filled while I waited. Seems to work, though it took a little convincing at first.

I should say that when I first saw "Cartridge World" plastered on that building a year or so ago, I thought it was a video game shop.

My tax return was rejected initially. This is because my previous year's Adjusted Gross Income was incorrect, according to the IRS's records. They had received a 1099-MISC from that contracting company I never talked to. Sure wish I'd gotten one. Well, I apparently paid taxes on $1000 more income last year than I had to. Oh well, fifteen minutes of waiting on the phone fixed that fairly easily.

Posted by mike at 09:10 PM Central | Car , Hardware , Money , TV , Weather , Work | Comments (0)

April 21, 2005

Follow the Rotted-Brick Road

I didn't get the job. Of course it was too good to be true. There are actually women there. Women at a software company? That's unpossible!

At least I got one of my tax refunds already. That makes it possible to last another two weeks.

Ugh. It's times like these where I just start feeling lonely, but there's nothing I can do about it. Getting a girlfriend would most likely involve going out and spending money (Hah! Not on the woman, silly, but on everything that goes around that).

I'm too honest, and with my persistent uneasiness due to my lack of employment and personal companionship, I have no chance of obtaining either. Well, better start preparing the speeches to ask the parents for cash. Still another month of cash left, though. I might start selling my DVDs too. DS9 alone could cover half my rent, I imagine.

Posted by mike at 09:39 PM Central | Money , Self , Work | Comments (0)

April 26, 2005

Square Peg, Round Hole

So yesterday I got two different recruiters going after me to fill a position. At the end of the day, one of them finally realized that the position had been out there for a while and that it had already been filled. Way to stay on top of things, people!

Posted by mike at 08:50 AM Central | Work | Comments (0)

May 06, 2005

The Spoon is in the Radio

What I learned from comics today:

A "diuretic" induces the body to expunge fluid, therefore causing urine to build up.

A "diarrhetic" has essentially the same effect, but with #2.

I haven't posted for a while. Not a whole lot to post about. I have a job interview at United Defense on Tuesday. I can't remember when I applied there. It's been a while, I guess.

Girls...well...no change there. I did get a note sort of responding to a query I put out a month and a half ago. She's too busy to actually respond as of yet. I always feel so lazy in comparison to the girls I interact with. They're always busy saving the world or something. I don't have that energy. Paradoxically, I don't think I'll ever have that energy unless I'm with someone. But that's never happened so I really have no idea. It'd be nice if it changed my life like that, but I should know by now that my fantasies are usually far removed from the way things work out in reality.

I've got to do a few more job applications today as part of an arrangement I have with my dad. Some money to help me out for the time being as long as I inform him of what I'm up to. This requires me to find some volunteer work to do as well, but I'm not sure what I want to do yet. Another week to figure that one out.

I sent out Mother's Day cards today, at least a day later than I had planned to do it. I guess I got distracted by writing short articles on the federally-recognized Native American tribes in Minnesota yesterday. There's not a huge amount of info on the 'net about it, so the articles are really preliminary at the moment and probably not entirely accurate.

I found out that a fairly nice image I uploaded there wasn't actually public domain like I thought it was. And I've made some other mistakes there lately. Mistakes are the worst sometimes, especially when I don't have anyone around to remind me that no real harm was done and that I do help improve things more than I mess up.

Now if I can just get the people who should be hiring me to figure that out. Er, that seems to be phrased weird. I'm just sick of not having a job and sick of not having anyone to lean on when I get those rejection notices.

And I'm sick of my browser crashing.

Posted by mike at 06:31 PM Central | Self , Work | Comments (0)

May 13, 2005

Assume the Position

I really hate how job listings on brassring.com have a button labeled "Submit to job". Also, eRecruit software sucks body parts of monkeys, scorpions, crustaceans, and other creatures that I don't even want to think about.

Posted by mike at 10:07 PM Central | Work | Comments (0)

May 30, 2005

...And in Darkness Bind Them

Let me say again that BRASSRING JOB SUBMISSION WEBSITES ARE THE LAMEST THING EVER!

Posted by mike at 12:11 PM Central | Work | Comments (0)

June 15, 2005

Ring of Fire

I should give an update. I have a job, for the moment. It might blow over tomorrow (more likely Monday) or in a month. Maybe longer. Who knows. It's contracting.

Over the weekend, I went up to Duluth and back. Actually, that was just Saturday. I attended my cousin's graduation party. The drive up was kind of foggy near the lake, but it was really bad on the way back. Fortunately I didn't have to travel too far to get away from it. On Sunday, I mostly stayed inside to avoid the sun (which saw too much of me last week anyway).

Earlier in the week I'd been taking photos. I visited the top of the Foshay Tower, then wandered eastward into St. Paul. The bus let me off at St. Thomas rather than going through town as I hoped (I randomly picked the one weird variation of route 21 route that cuts back on a half-length trip).

Jumping forward in time, I attended a "meet and greet" for Minnesota Public Radio on Monday. Specifically, it was for 89.3, and potentially being one of those folks that sets up swag tables at shows or hands out goodies to folks at other events. We'll see if I ever do any of that.

Monday evening I got a call asking for a tweaked Word resume, which I sent out the next morning. Within an hour or so of sending that out, I was contracted for a job after a quick lunch meeting. Today I began working. Nevermind that the details are all screwed up.

Well, I shouldn't tell tales out of school, at least not yet. Suffice to say that I was having greater moral difficulties about this than with the potential work at United Defense...

Posted by mike at 11:33 PM Central | Family , Music , Weather , Work | Comments (0)

June 16, 2005

So You Say

My job is probably going away. I was instructed not to go in tomorrow, and things will be worked out on Monday. Whatever.

I'm going home tomorrow because it's Father's Day weekend.

Posted by mike at 11:36 PM Central | Work | Comments (0)

July 15, 2005

Shades

Well, on my first day of work at Secure Computing, I was just about to get there ten minutes early when I was reminded that they're in the middle of road construction on Ramsey County Road C. Well, Google Maps is convinced that I should take New Brighton Boulevard (County 88) anyway. I'll try that today and see how it works out. If that works out alright, I can try one or two alternatives for getting to Broadway, too.

Posted by mike at 07:40 AM Central | Work | Comments (0)

July 18, 2005

Toast

Hey! For the first time in five/six years, I can go home for lunch! Well, not that it's really that close, but it's a last option..

Posted by mike at 12:23 PM Central | Food , Work | Comments (0)

July 22, 2005

Measurement

I'm done with training at work. We ended up finishing early, and most of the customers in class left to go home or stop by the Mall of America before getting to the airport. I spent the afternoon taking the test, which I undoubtedly passed. Definitely a format I'm unaccustomed to, though, since it was not a step-by-step thing. I was handed what is basically a network layout specification, and set up the firewall with that configuration.

I only got stuck in one spot where I had enabled high availability but neglected to add a rule to allow incoming traffic on the multicast listener IP, so the administration program was cut off from the system. We hadn't dealt with how to add and remove rules on the command line, so I had to get a little help on that.

Hmm, now I'm remembering other places where I screwed up. I'm not going to get a full report until Monday, but it should be pretty good nonetheless. The instructor did a quick check over some major things, and he only noticed a few minor problems that shouldn't negatively affect my score too much. Heh, getting it exactly right probably would have taken twice as long, and I think I was pushing four hours already (which is an average amount of time to go through it).

Posted by mike at 06:03 PM Central | Work | Comments (0)

August 07, 2005

William

Eh, I haven't posted in a while.

I've been looking around for a portable music player that will handle Ogg Vorbis files, but most of the ones that exist are small and can't hold much music. Blah. Only marginally less cumbersome than carrying around a CD player and a small wallet of discs. In addition, some of the bigger players that did work with Vorbis in the past are now discontinued, and no replacements have come to light.

Work is going alright. I have enough stuff to keep me busy now, which I didn't really have at the beginning. Still, I have trouble keeping track of all of the time I spend, and my boss is fairly picky about accounting for time. Somehow, things add up at the end of the day, but not at the end of the week.

At around 11:00, I headed out to get a new clock radio for my bedroom. My old radio is annoying because it is nearly impossible to understand what anyone is saying if the volume is down low, and I can only interpret certain strains of music when it is quiet. So, I got a radio with a better speaker, plus a somewhat better tuner. The old radio was actually quite good at pulling in stations, though it took some fiddling. My new Boston Acoustics Recepter Radio surprised me by being able to sort of tune in 106.5 KUOM-FM, even though I'm pretty far outside the listening range (relatively speaking). Then again, I can't pick up the 100.7 FM translator (W264BR), even though I am within the blue line—ten watts can't do much against brick and concrete, I'm afraid. That radio just happens to be next to a window on the west side of my building, which is why it can pick up the weak station and not the strong one...

I went to my first Fringe Festival show, which was also my first visit to the Brave New Workshop (sad that it's taken me so long, I know..). Unfortunately, either I transcribed the time wrong, or something got fouled up in the scheduling, so I didn't see what I was expecting. I ended up at Quarter Life Crisis, which was entertaining, but somehow I suspect Jaws: The Musical! The Director's Cut would have been more entertaining. Fortunately, most shows run several times, so I can try it again later in the week. I also missed Kung Fu Hamlet because I incorrectly estimated how long it would take me to get from point A to point B.

This evening, I'll be going to see Corleone, The Godfather as though it were written by Shakespeare.

Posted by mike at 07:15 PM Central | Abode , Music , Work | Comments (0)

August 10, 2005

Traceback

Well, some setup that took me two days at work finally got done today. Back on to testing. Installing those Sidewinders is a pain in the butt, partly because it requires more rebooting than I'm accustomed to...

I was thinking about my last entry on Radio K's Uptown/St. Louis Park signal—I've probably got it backwards and it's likely easier to pick up the other signal most of the time rather than KUOM/KDXL.

Posted by mike at 07:09 PM Central | Music , Work | Comments (0)

February 23, 2006

Stuffinator

Well, my company has moved from Roseville to St. Paul, and we're now situated in the triangle of land between MN-280, Energy Park Drive, and the University of Minnesota's transitway. Our first official day at the new site was on Monday, though the tech support group moved over the weekend.

I'm not completely enamored with the place, but I do think it is a significant step up. I generally like the color scheme—it's been described as "autumn," with green, yellow, orange, and other colors mixed together. Not so much brown, but that could be considered a good thing. I like our upstairs space a lot, since I can look out the windows and see downtown Minneapolis, the Witch's Hat water tower, KSTP's tower, plus the transitway and 280. We're also right between two heavily used rail lines, and it's just pretty cool to see some massive BNSF engines going by (heh, with the orangish paint scheme, they even match our building ;-)

Everyone is still figuring out the standard patterns of parking. I ended up pretty close to the middle, so I suppose it doesn't matter very much where I go. In theory the west side is the best option for me, but parking has been problematic there so far.

I like the lighting, which seems to be considerably more natural than what we had in the old building. I wandered around downtown St. Paul earlier this evening, and noticed that several buildings used the same light mounting scheme, where the lights are hung half a foot or so below the ceiling, with reflectors causing light to be diffused off the ceiling tiles. It definitely seems to make the light be distributed better, which I like. My whole work area is brighter, though it's also due to the fact that the sun comes in our windows pretty well.

There are some thermostat issues, so I'm not sure if the blinds will be open very much later on, so I might not get the view so much later. We'll have to see. I was lucky to catch a nice sunset this evening, though.

Anyway, after work, I ran to Target to get paper towels, kleenex, and toilet paper.. Somehow, I've pretty much run out of all three around the same time.

I got home and, after paying a stack of bills, was preparing to relax when I remembered that Dan, Erin, and friends were going to have their initial show as Milkbar at Station 4 in St. Paul. They produced a fairly industrial sound, which is not terribly surprising considering the folks that we've all intermingled with. It was a good first show. A few things hung in my mind, but I'll mull them over through the next few times I see them, and see how things progress. At any rate, they were probably much more acceptible to most folks than the group that came on next (oy, with the screaming and the yelling...).

Like I said earlier, I wandered around downtown St. Paul after that. I was primarily interested in looking at the construction progress on the Minnesota Public Radio studios. They have a big news ticker on the outside of the building. I'd heard a week or so ago that the folks at 89.3 vacated the broadcasting booth that they since the beginning of last year (which was taken over from the classical service). Anyway, it now looks like the addition to the MPR headquarters is done, so they're now gutting the old part of the building.

Well, the new part looks pretty nice, at any rate. Plenty of open space.

I liked wandering around downtown St. Paul. Somehow I think I like that area much more than downtown Minneapolis. I figure that I just don't like most of the new buildings that have been put up in Minneapolis since the big urban renewal project of the 1950s/1960s. St. Paul didn't mow down 40% of the downtown, so there are more relatively old buildings to add character. (Of course, much of what went down in Minneapolis was justifiably removed, but there was a lot that probably should have been kept). Other than that, the streets are narrower, and I imagine that contributes to the feel of the place.

Since a lot of folks at work are getting used to the new neighborhood, and trying to get some bearings (even though it's only 4 or 5 miles away from the old place), I've been thinking about how to get from point A to point B around there. After my St. Paul outing, I decided to try a route I'd pondered for getting between the airport and work. Not that I'll necessarily ever have to take the route, but it seemed like something good to figure out.

Anyway, in my mind, places near 280 are poorly situated for getting to the airport. You generally either have to loop around to the west or to the east. Probably the fastest route involves I-94 to Snelling, then taking the semi-secret Ayd Mill Road bypass to reach I-35E, then taking MN-5 to the airport. However, I practically get heartburn just thinking about the left turn from Snelling onto Selby Ave, just before sneaking onto Ayd Mill. Well, I suppose the three-rights-make-a-left rule might apply there..

So, I figured that one much less stressful solution would be to take Pelham Boulevard to Mississippi River Blvd, and that down to MN-5. I roughly timed it, and it ended up being just about 20 minutes, maybe a shade longer. I'll have to do an actual run at some point, but I think the I-94/Ayd Mill/I-35E/MN-5 route would only shave a few minutes off that time.

Ugh, it's late. Time for sleep.

Posted by mike at 01:24 AM Central | Car , Dan , Erin , Work | Comments (0)

September 08, 2006

Fingerling

We got gifts today at work. New pens to commemorate the completed merger of SCUR with CipherTrust. They've got USB drives in the top half, which is kind of neat. The main downside is that they're a bit dated—64 MB with only a USB 1.1 interface (12 Mbit/s). But hey, it's better than another clock with no numbers.

Posted by mike at 05:35 PM Central | Work | Comments (0)

February 09, 2007

Abbr

"Refrigerator" has no 'd.' Somehow the 'd' appears when we abbreviate that as "fridge." However, we have a sec^H^H^Hadministrative assistant at work who has, more than once, abbreviated it as "frig." Now, that looks silly, but I'm not sure exactly how wrong it is. "Frige" doesn't look right either, does it?

Ah, the wonders of the English language.

Posted by mike at 05:44 PM Central | Work | Comments (0)

April 20, 2007

Siegfield Follies

Aagh!

I'm trying to find ways to ditch Outlook at work. So far, the best option seems to be to use only as a calendar, and to use Thunderbird or something else for actually doing my mail. There are a few things that are a little annoying, such as the fact that I have to go in and select exactly which folders I want to "subscribe" to via IMAP, but that's not a huge thing. The most annoying thing so far? It doesn't have a way to edit signature files! What? It expects you to just create a text file on the hard drive in a particular spot. Now, I don't mind this on a Unix/Linux box, where I'd just plop something into ~/.signature, but on Windows, you have to go through the drudgery of plodding through C:\Documents and Settings\<User>\<something>\<something>\<something>, which is very annoying...

How hard is it to have a button that starts up Notepad or whatever editor is associated with *.txt files, and have it point at the expected location? Heck, there's a file editor built into the stupid program—the "Compose" window used for creating messages. Why can't you just use that? Grr!

Posted by mike at 10:15 AM Central | Internet , Work | Comments (0)

May 23, 2007

Floribbean

I'm visiting my company's office in Florida this week, in the infamous Broward County. Crazy how many expensive cars there are down here. It only took me about five minutes after leaving my hotel the first evening to see a Lamborghini Murciélago convertible. I saw a Piaggio MP3 scooter yesterday evening too. I'm not sure how expensive they are versus other scooters, but it was neat to see anyway...

Of course, if you have a nice car down here, you'd better have a garage. My rental car's been parked in a lot only a few hundred feet from the ocean, and it's getting a pretty heavy coating of salt...

Posted by mike at 10:29 AM Central | Car , Work | Comments (0)