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User Journal

Journal: Merry Christmas! 1

Journal by mcgrew

For the first time in nine years I got to see my youngest daughter on Christmas; this is the first Christmas in nine years she didn't have to work. Great Christmas present!

And the second to last pre-publication copies came Christmas eve eve. I finished going through it this morning, and the book itself is ready. What wasn't was the cover; I fixed it and ordered another copy, so Mars, Ho! should be online in a couple of weeks.

"Fourteen: The Final Chapter" will be posted New Years Eve. Its link to Mars, Ho! will take you to the "coming soon" page on my web site until I actually publish a few days later.

Merry Christmas, everyone. For you in Britain and Canada, happy Boxing Day (tomorrow). And to everyone, may you have a safe, well, pleasant, and happy 2015.

User Journal

Journal: A mild rant 7

Journal by mcgrew

I've been listening to KSHE since the day they changed format in 1967. They play some great rock and roll.

They're a hundred miles away; Im in the fringe reception area so I listen online. So a few days ago I'm editing random Scribblings and the music stops. I curse Firefox and Flash and ComCast and pull the browser up to refresh the page that plays the music, and I see "Still listening?"

Well, no, YOU SHUT OFF THE MUSIC! WTF, if I wasn't listening I wouldn't have it running!

I do see why they started that, though: $$$. They have to pay the RIAA and ASCAP fees, which vary according to how many people are listening, and they don't want to pay for someone who isn't.

Still, it's annoyance.

User Journal

Journal: Three Irons Burning: Progress Report 2

Journal by mcgrew

When I was in college, I often took workshops in the summer. Two weeks of eight hour days equaled a normal class for a quarter. It would allow me a couple months vacation.

One was a blacksmithing workshop, where I learned to fashion stuff out of steel, learned a little metallurgy, and learned where a lot of the "old sayings" came from: blacksmithing. One is "too many irons in the fire", which is where this journal's title comes from. I'm working on three books right now.

Mars,Ho! is in its final editing stages, and I hope I'll be able to publish it next week; fingers crossed.

Next up is Random Scribblings, a collection of stuff I've posted on the internet since 1997; what I consider the best of what I can remember and find. It's also in the editing stage, but there's a lot more work to be done. it's huge, well over 100,000 words.

Then there's Mars Bars, a collection of short science fiction stories. It's in the beginning stages, with seven stories written so far and Voyage to Earth about half a novelette, at a little over 3000 words so far. I still don't know how long that story will be, or what other stories I'll come up with when it's written.

I'll probably post Fourteen: The Final Chapter a week from Thursday. I'll have a rant about my favorite radio station tomorrow or Monday.

User Journal

Journal: Interface

Journal by mcgrew

I plan on trying the suggested browsers, but thought I'd revisit Opera first. It dawned on me that changing browsers is going to be a big PIA, since Firefox holds a bunch of passwords.

It's been at least a decade since I've tried Opera; it was brand new when I last tried it. So I installed the latest one. The result was...

Who designed this gawdoffal mess? Look, folks, I'm all for hiring the handicapped, but you shouldn't have the learning-disabled designing interfaces. Look, folks, it shouldn't take five damned clicks to get to a bookmark. And what idiot had the idea to have each bookmark take up a square inch or two, with stupid illustrations?

I haven't uninstalled it yet, maybe there's a way to make the interface less idiotic (Firefox does), but I'm not hopeful.

Saturday morning I started working and just wasn't in the mood; I needed a weekend off. I probably wrote a paragraph in "Voyage to Earth". So I did a little random googling and ran across the fact that Windows lets you easily catch and save an audio stream, but it's disabled by default.

I'd been using EAC to sample my LPs and tapes for years, but it will only run on the XP tower. Someone clued me to Audacity a few years ago; it's been installed but unused.

I fired it up to see if I could indeed catch streams, and it does indeed.

And unlike EAC or Opera, it has an excellent interface and its manual is actually useful! I love that program! There are a ton of advanced features I'll probably never use, but it's good that they're there.

Sunday night I copped ACDC's new album, a Deep Purple "best of", and the Grateful Dead's "Skullfuck" album from KSHE's "Seventh Day" show. I guess I need some blank CDs for the car...

User Journal

Journal: The Albatross and the Architect

Journal by karniv0re

I'm listening to Strikeforce: Diablo's the Albatross and the Architect, which I haven't thought about in years. It's probably been like, 8 or 9 years since I rocked this album. Back then, I was living in shitty out-west apartments, driving a Toyota Celica, playing in a band, in my sophomore year of college, breaking up with my longest-term girlfriend, and just starting what would become the job I am doing now. Little did I know, accepting that internship because I needed a job and cash would get me to the place I am now. And just where is that? Eagerly awaiting to hear if I will be selected as the systems architect for the company. Holy shit.

I'm sure that one of my interview questions for that internship was, "Where do you see yourself in 10 years." I don't remember what I said, but I doubt this was it. I have come far since then. Sometimes I wonder how the hell I did it. Especially when I'm spending my time listening to music and typing out a journal instead of, you know, working. But then I remember all the hard work I have done. All the late nights, long weekends. All the days and nights spent at the library studying for a calculus test, or ssh'd into Phoenix or Archos or whatever it was, hastily trying to get a C program to compile. The long nights spent teaching myself PHP and OpenBSD so I'd be ready when I started my first internship.

That's why I'm here, waiting for the word. It will be one of two responses.

"No. Sorry, we found someone more qualified. Wait a few more years and apply again."

This is a valid response, and I would accept it graciously. The role of Systems Architect is a huge - and I can't overstate that - HUGE responsibility. The company leans on you for technical advice. You don't get to lean on anyone else. You are the last domino. You either stand strong or everyone falls down. Certainly it would make my life easy, if not boring for the next few years. I would likely revert back to studying the market and trying to find success there.

"Yes. After all of our interviews, we have determined you are the best fit for this position. Congratulations!"

In this case, shit gets real. All the things mentioned above about the responsibility officially bears weight, and that weight sits on my shoulders. There are still so many things I don't know! Will I be called out for not being as smart as the other architects? Will I make bad choices? Will I say the wrong things? Will I disappoint my boss? Will I let the company down? I've been in this position before, but the stakes were so much lower. I was an intern, and what could they expect from an intern? I was a brand new employee, and what could they expect from a newbie? But now, I am not new. I've been around the block and a lot can (and should) be expected of me. Fuck up here, and there are serious consequences.

I've weighed all this. It is scary, yet it is a step I must at least attempt. Because without being a little scared (read: motivated), I might as well not even get out of bed.

But as of now, I'm still just waiting on one of those two responses. Will I be the architect, or will I wear the albatross? Time will tell.

User Journal

Journal: WTF, Firefox??? 7

Journal by mcgrew

As usual when I boot on Patch Tuesday, I open a bunch of tabs, the notebook slows to a crawl, and this time it was locked up so tight that Windows gave a message saying it couldn't display the message and to use the power button. I had to pull the battery to reboot the damned thing.

So I start Firefox back up and it says it's updating. It finally opens, with an extra tab, one telling me that it changed my default search to Yahoo.

WHAT THE GOD DAMNED HELL, FIREFOX??? This is bullshit! If I wanted that God damned Yahoo, an even worse search engine than Bing, I would have chosen it.

Yahoo, when your product is so shitty you have to trick people into using it... fucking morons!

There used to be a drop down by the search box; it's gone now. I tried tools->options; that's where it is now. Non nerds would give up.

Pissing off your users is NOT the way to get more of them. Anybody have any suggestions for a less annoying browser?

Also, I need to dig out that kubuntu CD and load it on a thumb drive; I'm damned sick and tired of Microsoft's patch Tuesday.

Excuse me while I reboot. Again.

User Journal

Journal: This is a first 5

Journal by mcgrew

Mod points both here and s/n at the same time. And here I'm working on three books!

There's Mars, Ho! which I'm hopeful I'll publish soon.

Then there's Random Scribblings, a collection of articles and stuff I've posted on the internet since 1997. Its subtitle will be "junk I've littered the internet with". Even though there's probably less than 10% of what I've written it's huge, well over 100,000 words. It will probably grow a little, because I just found six articles I thought had been lost forever.

This is kind of related; much stuff from my old Quake site is there. Someone once asked if I could re-post the shoutcasts, but there's too much RIAA music in them and they would surely be quickly taken down, so if you want them, email me and I'll send them as attachments.

Finally there's MarsBars, a collection of short science fiction stories. I worked on Voyage to Earth some yesterday. That book is less than 20% done.

I've been working harder than I worked when I still worked. So I'm glad I got all those mod points, I needed a break.

User Journal

Journal: Crappy Holidays 5

Journal by mcgrew

Thanksgiving morning I was ready to pick up my daughter and visit our family a hundred miles south in St. Louis.

My keys weren't in my pocket. An hour later I gave up looking and called all concerned with the sad news; no Thanksgiving for me this year; I was stuck in my house.

I found them Saturday.

I'd ordered a copy of Mars,Ho!, hopefully the final pre-print, on Monday before Thanksgiving. I expected it to ship Saturday, but it still hasn't shipped. So I doubt I'll have it published by Christmas, let alone soon enough for it to be gifts.

Sorry, guys.

User Journal

Journal: The Leonine Contract 9

Journal by Marxist Hacker 42

It's a pretty standard trope, but one that libertarians do not seem to believe can possibly exist. And it is a blind spot in economic justice in the United States of America.
 
 

The Lion and his Fellow Hunters, By Aesop
Once, a lion, a fox, a jackal, and a wolf went hunting. They caught a stag and killed it, and quartered the meat. "This quarter," said the lion, "is for me, as I am the King of Beasts. And this quarter is mine as the arbiter of the spoils. The third quarter is mine because of my part in chasing down the stag. And as for the fourth â" well, I'd like to see any of you dare to put so much as a paw on it." The other three animals were bitterly disappointed, but they slunk away, unwilling or unable to fight for their share of the meat.

Just because you help a lion doesn't mean he'll share.

 
So remember boys and girls, just because you help a rich man to run his business, does not mean he'll share the profits with you. Which leads us right back to an entirely Different Leo and his successors.

User Journal

Journal: I'm dreaming of a secular Christmas 1

Journal by mcgrew

I'm dreaming of a secular Christmas
In these modern secular days
With a secular tree with secular lights
And a Santa in a secular sleigh

I'm dreaming of a secular Christmas
With lots of secular snow
With a secular wreath and some secular lights
And some secular mistletoe

No baby in a manger
No wise men at his bed
No thought of Jesus Christ at all
Just get him out of your head

I'm dreaming of a secular Christmas
With lots of secular snow
With a secular Santa in a secular sleigh
And a secular HO HO HO!

No baby in a manger
No wise men at his bed
No thought of Jesus Christ at all
Just get him out of your head

I'm dreaming of a secular Christmas
Have a Happy Holiday!
Don't forget the secular eggnog
Just forget just whose birthday...

---

The above is of course sarcasm, but I think that ironically, antitheists might embrace it.

I am offended by the Honda commercials, where toys given to adults when they were children as "holiday gifts" are attempting to sell cars.

There are no "holiday gifts". Only Hebrews and Christians; it's Hanukkah gifts and Christmas presents. and only 1.8% of Americans are Jewish. Damned Japanese! Then I had a second thought -- is there a Japanese holiday where gifts are exchanged?

It turns out that there is a Japanese holiday, this year on the last day of Hanukkah. It's the Emperor's birthday, but gifts are not exchanged; the emperor's palace is open to the public on that day.

Honda ad agency people, you are idiots. 1.8% of Americans are Jewish, 77% identify themselves as Christian. Guess what, morons? You just offended half the Christians in the US while trying to not disenfranchise the less than two percent who are Jewish.

If you're trying to use Christians' second most holy day to further your worship of mammon, you better damned well mention Christ, or risk pissing off half the population.

User Journal

Journal: New Story

Journal by mcgrew

Sundays at noon an old friend has a blues show on a local college radio station, WQNA. Of course, since the blues and booze go so well together, Sunday is my "drink too much" day. So by eight I was too drunk to edit. I put the book down and picked up the notebook and started typing.

It's only started, with only a few more than 600 words so far. The title is "Voyage to Earth". It starts in John's bar five years after arriving at Mars. He's gone to college, learned chemistry, and is brewing the most popular beer on Mars.

Meanwhile, They're going to Earth so Destiny can collect a Nobel in astrophysics for her paradigm-shifting results from her new telescope, John is going along with a shipload of beer to export to Earth ("Earth is buying beer from Mars? Even with the shipping costs? What the hell?"
        "Rich dumbasses trying to be cool. Mars is cool now, I could piss in a can and theyâ(TM)d buy it.").

Tammy is getting an award for her work with drug addicts, not the Nobel and will be accompanying them.

I have no idea how long it will be. It could be a short story or a novel, I don't know yet.

I sent for another copy of Mars, Ho! yesterday. I'm hopeful I'll be able to release it for publication this round, but I doubt it will be on sale in time to buy them for Christmas presents. Bummer.

Saturday I'll post a secular Christmas carol I wrote back in 2005 that almost nobody has seen.

User Journal

Journal: Slimy 1

Journal by stoolpigeon

Having to carefully unselect crap I don't want installed on every Java update? Slimy
Rechecking the "stay logged in" button on facebook for me? Slimy
There's so much slimy stuff. Found a new one today. That Win 7 VM I mentioned, it wanted me to upgrade IE. Which I want to do - no problem. As I'm about to hit the Download button I see a small line further down "Download non-enhanced version." My gut tells me I don't want enhanced - do a quick google and I'm right. Non-enhanced means just the browser. Enhanced means that I'm selecting bing and some MSN junk. It used to be a check box and you had to unclick it. Apparently too many people did.

User Journal

Journal: Storage is Cheap but Come On Windows 1

Journal by stoolpigeon

EDIT: I cleaned up restore points and that got the space used down to 27.4 GB - still crazy.
 
I have a Fedora 20 vm that I run in VirtualBox on my Mac. It gives me access to some tools I like, and it lets me run a web server that's closer to what a production environment would look like.
 
Yesterday I got around to setting up another VM. This one is Windows 7. I started the same as I did the Fedora image, with a 25 GB hard drive. That was fine for the windows install but I thought I'd check out the new community edition of Visual Studio. When I went to install it, it told me I didn't have enough free disk space. So I made the "hard drive" bigger - I bumped it up to 30 GB. The install worked then, but I have under 600 MB of free space on the drive. I have only installed Chrome and VS. That's it. WIndows 7, Chrome and VS are 30 GB. I've installed a bunch of stuff on my Fedora VM - Apache, MySQL, KDevelop, QT and the QT tools and so on. Lots of stuff and it is sitting at 18 GB right now.
 
Fortunately it's easy to give the Windows VM more space - it just surprised me I'd need so much.

User Journal

Journal: Things I Can't Avoid Knowing 5

Journal by stoolpigeon

I spend a decent amount of time at Reddit. The key is finding good subreddits. I usually hop on Facebook a time or two a day as well. As an expat it is a good way to connect back to home.
 
Anyway what's interesting to me is that sometimes things happen and those sites just go kerbonkers. Like, for example, if it rains in Phoenix my facebook feed will be absolutely full of it and I'll see it about a million times.
 
With reddit it is more noticeable because certain events will show up in multiple subreddits multiple times and on other sites like Slashdot and Hacker News. Yesterday I'm pretty sure a probe landed on a comet and MS open sourced .net. I'm not sure, but I think I saw something about it - about a million times.
 
Not totally related - the other site I spend a lot of time on is youtube. I watch a lot of starcraft and some different shows like tabletop and I enjoy music videos too. I should write a post just about youtube now that I think about it. Anyway - yesterday I saw something there for the first time where I recognized another user. I guess the real surprise is that with g+ it didn't happen sooner, but still it was funny.

User Journal

Journal: Things Are Looking Up!

Journal by karniv0re

After re-reading my last journal entry, man. This year has sucked. Shit was bleak. And it all culminated into a terrible, awful week. A got into CRNA school and I was so, so happy for her. But that was where the happy times ended. We went out to celebrate, but I had a feeling I should set up the dog cam, because I was worried that the dog had been barking when we'd leave again. No sooner had we got to the restaurant 3 blocks away than he started backing. I sprinted home to stop him, but that was it for our night. She finally made the decision to give up the dog.

It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do, taking a dog we both loved to the Humane Society. Putting him behind the kennel and shutting it and looking at his sad, scared little face. I had to hold back the tears. But there was nothing else we could do. She had a hard time with it. She thought she could get something else fluffy, so she decided to get a bunny. That lasted about 2 days, before she realized she was deathly allergic to the hay it requires. So she told me to go set it free, which I for some reason, listened to her and did. A few hours later, we got a call from the Humane Society about our bunny being found. I was so fucking pissed off, both in that we clearly got caught, and in that I listened to her in the first place and let that poor bunny go in the park. Stupid. Thinking about that day just brings back so many angry feelings. We almost broke up over that.

And maybe a day later, we realized her cat was peeing on the carpet. I honestly didn't think I could take any more. Another trip to the Humane Society. Ugh. Shittiest. Week. Ever.

But you know what? Things are improving. She's still getting over the dog, I think, but all in all, everything has been so much better without him. Now we're free to go out, enjoy our night, not worry about if he's barking, or if we need to take him to doggy daycare. Plus, that's less money we have to spend. So yes, things are finally looking up. We've had good nights together again.

And just recently, I've learned that our architect is leaving, opening up his position. I want it. I talked to my boss' boss about it. He sounded interested in entertaining the idea. I don't have 10+ years of experience, but it's close. I know that if I were thrust into the position, feeling uncomfortable again would spur me to get better and learn more. I already feel half-way capable. Being shoehorned into an architect position would be just the inspiration I need to be interested in my job again.

I do fear that I'll be failing at the stock market if I do this, but that'll always be there and it's not even a guaranteed win. A promotion to architect would be a guaranteed win, as long as I didn't fuck up. Anyway, the job should be posting soon. We'll see how this goes...

When a Banker jumps out of a window, jump after him--that's where the money is. -- Robespierre

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