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Journal: YASWBE* 1

Journal by Rick the Red

* Yet Another Star Wars Blog Entry

Well, OK, journal entry. You get the point. Squiggleslash posted this, and since he's banned foes I can't reply, so I'll add my 2cents here.

One thing that bugs me is revisonist history in a fiction series. Example: the whole Effram Cockran (prob. spelled wrong, who cares?) nonesense in Start Trek. "First Contact" was explained differently in TOS: The Vulcans had been observing Humans for years, but had avoided contact because Humans were so like themselves that they scared the Vulcans a bit, as we all know. Then some Vulcan ship had an emergency and called on a Human ship for help because "it was the logical thing to do." That's the real 'First Contact' as far as I'm concerned, and there's no reason why the current producers couldn't have followed Roddenberry's lead on this.

When Lucas does it to himself, well, I don't know what to think. And I'm not talking about the additional CG FX in Ep.IV, I'm talking about R2D2 and C3PO. Lucas said they are the narrators of the story, that no major plot element occurs without one of them present to observe it. OK, George, then how do you explain why C3PO doesn't recognize Owen Skywalker in Episode IV? The creepy little droid dealers didn't wipe his memory, because later he remembers Leia and Obi-Wan. And if C3PO does somehow forget his creator and the entire family where he "grew up", which are major plot elements, then how can he serve as narrator? Also, in Ep. II Obi-Wan goes to that planet where they made the clone army (again, I'm no fanboy or I'd know the planet's name off the top of my head) -- a major plot element -- without either droid present to record what happened. Hmmpfh!

Well, at least Portman's hot, grits or not.

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Journal: Moderation 2

Journal by Rick the Red

I have not had mod points in ages. I think I may know why (or maybe I'm just paranoid). Slashdot says "Regular Meta Moderators are more likely to get mod points." I mm every time they ask, and I still don't get mod points. Well, today I negatively meta-moderated a "troll" moderation that looked awfully strange. When I read the comment in context it appears it was modded "troll" by a slashbot simply because it was critical of Slashdot itself. We all know criticizing Slashdot is not allowed, and such posts get modded "troll" so fast it has to be a bot. We know a moderator's karma is affected by meta-moderation, so what's to stop them from reversing that and bitchslapping our mod points if we give a bot negative meta-moderation? If they bitchslapped our karma for it, we'd notice, but if this "feature" only denies us mod points how can we prove it?

Thoughts?

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Journal: Tax Toy 2005 3

Journal by Rick the Red

My birthday's in May. Before I got married, each year I'd buy myself a birthday present with my tax refund. After I got married, it became our tax refund, and my birthday presents became her responsibility. Net result: I still don't have a radio controlled model airplane, or an MP3 player, or a PSP, or any of a dozen toys I'd probably have bought for myself over the years.

But this year is different. Today I get to buy, with my wife's blessing, my very first riding lawnmower. Best of all, she doesn't consider this a birthday gift, so I'm still getting one of those, too! We're on a five acre wooded lot with I'm guessing about 1 1/2 acres of grass (the rest is house, driveway, and trees). I've been mowing this on my feet, pushing a non-self propelled mower, for ten years now (well, nine - we didn't have much grass the first year after the house was built). So why do I get a riding mower after all these years? I dunno. I guess my wife thinks I'm getting old or something :-)

[she says the real reason is so I don't spend all my family time mowing the lawn. she thinks a riding mower will be faster]

But it's not all happiness here: I had to clean the garage so there's a place to put it, which I did yesterday, which is why I'm buying it today. And it's raining. And it's supposed to rain tomorrow (Saturday) too. I don't know when I'll get to use it, but that hardly matters as they have to deliver it anyway and that probably won't happen until sometime next week. But even with all that bad news, I'm still quite happy. I get to spend $2000 on a toy today, something I don't often do :-)

Update: I've had the damn thing less than three weeks, and they just took it back to the shop for the second time to fix it. I haven't been able to mow the entire yard once! I'm only halfway through and now what's left looks like a wheat field and what I've already mowed needs mowing again. Arrgggghh!

It backfired as they drove it off the truck when they delivered it, and it hasn't run right since. The dealer's been really great about it, and they're currently looking into taking it back and giving me another under Deere's 30 day return policy.

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Journal: Why does Dell suck so much? 2

Journal by Rick the Red

OK, so it was our fault that we spilled something on my wife's Inspiron. So we're willing to pay to fix it. It needs a new keyboard. So why does Dell make it so damn difficult to order replacement parts? I had to call the Technical Support line to be told that I needed to call the Out Of Warranty Repair line, who told me to call the Parts Department. Why isn't the Parts Department phone number listed on any of Dell's web pages? Why isn't the Out of Warranty Repair number listed anywhere? Why do Dell's parts department demand my name, address, and phone number just to quote me a price? They had the nerve to tell me they needed my personal information for unstated "security" reasons. Funny, "security" is why I'm uncomfortable giving that out. I don't need Dell spam, thank you very much. I don't much care for much of anything Dell these days.

And why are Dell's part numbers such a secret that they won't tell me the part number for my keyboard? Are they that afraid of me shopping around for a better price? Is that what this is really all about? Making sure that I'm really a business customer when I call to get the business price on a part? Or making sure I'm really a government customer when I call to get the government's price?

BTW, Dell wants $14.95 for the keyboard, which is a deal compaired with Seattle Laptop, who want $119 for the same thing. Of course, that price includes installation, as if I can't manage the FOUR screws that hold it in. $105 to replace a keyboard held in by four screws? I'm in the wrong business.

Update: The new keyboard is here and it works. And only $14.95. Not bad. Dell's service comes through in the end, but why does the journey have to be so difficult? I get the distinct impression Dell won't sell anyone a part if they won't/can't absolutely, positively identify themselves to Dell's satisfaction. Which, I guess, is Dell's right. But it's also my right to not up up with such nonsense. I'll probably go with Gateway next time (as I really, really dislike HP^h^hCompaq (had a couple Compaq laptops a few years ago and they were crap)

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Journal: Clueless morons

Journal by Rick the Red

Yep, clueless morons. That's the Supreme Court of the United States. Here's a letter I just sent to a newspaper:

Editor,

In today's story "High court hears debate over Commandments," there's a telling paragraph: "Justice Antonin Scalia noted that legislative proclamations and prayer invoking God's name are permissible. 'I don't see why the one is good and the other is bad,' he said." A justice of the Supreme Court of the United States just admitted, from the bench, that he doesn't understand the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

Why am I not surprised? After all, this is the guy who refuses to recuse himself from hearing a case involving his hunting buddy, Dick Cheney. If he doesn't understand "conflict of interest," a three-word phrase, why should he be expected to understand "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," a whole 16 words!

Hey, Scalia, here's a clue: NEITHER are good. ANY imposition of religion by the government upon the people is BAD. When the government forces us to pray to ITS god, it prohibits the free exercise of some CITIZENS' religion, including the right to not pray to ANY god. Period.

Too bad the Supremes aren't required to understand the Constitution they purport to uphold. Are they even required to read it?

And then I signed my (real) name.

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Journal: Job Change and other personal matters 3

Journal by Rick the Red

Well, it's official: I'm now a house-husband! I've been one for quite some time now, and late last year we decided to have me give up the job search and concentrate on the house and kids. Now it's official, as I've listed "house-husband" as my occupation on my taxes. It's been "engineer" since 1980, so this is quite a traumatic change for me.

On to the other personal matters: We're going through a life-change right now. We're clean-sweeping our house and our lives. We've been in this house for 10 years now and it's still not finished -- no baseboards, the basement is a warehouse without any sheetrock, etc. Meanwhile, we've managed to fill every nook and cranny with junk. So the new rule is: if we haven't used it in 2 years, out it goes. We've got two piles in the basement, Keep and Sell, and two more in the garage, Goodwill and Garbage. I may have more to say about this as time goes on, I don't know.

Meanwhile, the relevance to Slashdot is that I'm going to make the time to work on some open-source projects I've had on the back burner for far too long. Like upgrading my firewall, for starters, and building a server with Samba, Kerberos, and LDAP. Simple things to a Slashdot geek, but I haven't had the time. Lots of plans for things like Squid to block the kid's access to the internet, etc. I've also got some casemod ideas, in case network administration isn't enough to keep me busy.

I guess I'm posting this publicly to shame myself into following through with these plans :-) Wish me luck!

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Journal: The First Amendment 10

Journal by Rick the Red

Why is everyone forgetting the First Amendment? Row vs. Wade was the right decision for the wrong reason. The Supremes cited the Fourth Amendment, but the real issue is the First Amendment. The Democrats will never win the support of the majority if they continue to overlook this key point. It covers Gay marrage, abortion, privacy rights -- a host of issues where the Religious Right has hijacked the Republicans to great effect:

Whether homosexuals should marry is a "moral" issue. Whether women should be allowed to have abortions (e.g., whether abortion is murder) is a "moral" issue. Whether the Goverment has any business snooping within the walls of your house is a "moral" issue, when the reason they're snooping is to uncover "immoral" activity (adultry, fornication, dope smoking, etc.). The bottom line on "moral" issues is that there is no scientific evidence to support or reject either position. Science shows us that an unborn fetus can, under certain circumstances, survive outside the womb. But prior to that point (3 months, 4 months, 5 months, whatever) there is no scientific evidence that the fetus can survive, and no scientific evidence that the fetus is sentient -- i.e., alive. So belief that life begins at conception -- or even before, in the case of the Catholic church ("don't spill your seed") -- is exactly that, belief. As is belief that homosexuality is wrong. As is belief that the poor are poor because God is punishing them and thus our government should not help them. As is any other thing you care to believe.

Now, the thing about the First Amendment is that, despite arguements to the contrary ("the words 'seperation of church and state' don't appear anywhere in the First Amendment"), its purpose is to ensure that the Government does not tell people what to believe. That's why freedom of the press is in there with freedom of religion. It's about beliefs and values, not about religion or the press. It's saying that you can disagree with your government; your government cannot tell you what to think.

So, if the government says abortion is wrong, or homosexuality is wrong, or oral or anal sex is wrong, or sex out of wedlock is wrong, or smoking dope is wrong, or any of the hundreds of "moral values" the Republicans wish to impose upon us, THEY ARE VIOLATING THE FIRST AMENDMENT! The government cannot make you pray to the government's god, or follow that god's laws. It cannot and must not -- that's what the First Amendment is all about.

Now, I'm not defending any of these actions. I even consider some of them wrong myself. But the government has no business telling anyone that they are right or wrong -- that's a belief and it's up to each person to obtain their beliefs on their own. Your family can influence you, your church can influence you, your community's values can influence you, but your government's laws must not!

OK, I'm rambling, but my point is that John Kerry came close when he stated that he opposed abortion but couldn't force his views on others. He didn't really explain himself well, and it got maybe 10 minutes coverage in the whole, several month long campaign. The democrats have to do a better job of this. They have to own the First Amendment the way the NRA owns the Second Amendment. They have to get people voting the First Amendment as their #1 issue the way the NRA gets people to vote gun laws as their #1 issue. When the republicans complain about "activist judges" the dems need to respond that those judges are just defending the First Amendment.

I dunno. Maybe the Dems get it and assume everyone else does, too. But they don't, and I sorta doubt the Dems get it, either. Abortion is a Freedom of Religion issue. Homosexual marrage is a Freedom of Religion issue. The Democrats need to embrace the First Amendment and become the party that defends Freedom of Religion, not the party that defends homosexuals and abortionists. They need to portray the Republicans as the Party of Intolerance, which ought to be very easy to do. I know that would win them far more of Middle America than they got in this past election.

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Journal: Yahoo! sucks, too 1

Journal by Rick the Red

I know I'm bitching a lot lately, but with the election and all I'm pretty pissed, so I'm venting here I guess.

I've had a Yahoo! email account for quite a while now, mostly so I could use Yahoo! IM (and that was because my Brother-In-Law used it because it worked through his firewall while other IM didn't, so he got the whole family hooked on Yahoo! IM). But now I'm dropping it and not looking back. Why? Because I got phished via Yahoo! mail and NOBODY at Yahoo! will talk to me about it. Yahoo! mail is a free service, and they don't support their free service. So I get email that looks like it came from Yahoo! but it sure seems like it's phishing to me, and there's nobody at Yahoo! who will confirm or deny that this is a legitimate Yahoo! email. Their voicemail hell system directs you to on-line customer care, which is frankly broken -- I entered my question in ascii and it came out mangled and unintelligible, and the "help" it pointed me to had nothing to do with my question. I guess their autobots don't know what "phishing" is. I doubt their humans would, either. I guess I got what I paid for. Of course, their free email is supposed to build Good Will, so naturally this move has lost them all previous Good Will with me. One Aw, shit! wipes out all previous Attaboys.

As much as I hate outsourcing, I'd rather talk with a Dell rep I can barely understand through their Indian accent than talk to Yahoo!'s voicemail blank wall.

There! I've! vented! about! Yahoo! But! I! don't! feel! any! better! At! least! their! damn! software! is! off! my! PC!

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Journal: Dell Sucks 1

Journal by Rick the Red

I've used Dell OptiPlex workstations and Latitude laptops at work (since replaced by the Precison line), and I've found them to be rock solid reliable. But they won't sell those to the likes of you and me. Oh, no. For us they offer the Dimension desktops and Inspiron laptops. Which, I've learned the hard way, suck.

Not able to buy Latitude laptops, my wife and I bought Inspirons. What a mistake. My hard drive failed. OK, that's not Dell's fault, hard drives fail, right? They replaced it under warranty, so they've done all that can be expected, right? Wrong. I had to re-load everything, of course, so I first re-loaded Windows. That went smoothly, although my video was stuck at 800x600x16. Then I put in the Dell drivers disk.

First, let me say their menu system is confusing at best, listing drivers I didn't need (with helpful if unexplained check marks next to some of them). Guessing, I clicked on the ones with checkmarks. So far, so good -- at least I got my video back to the full 1024x768. But there were no drivers for either the built-in 10/100 ethernet or the USB port. They did, however, have drivers for the built-in 802.11b ethernet THAT DELL SAYS DOES NOT EXIST. Specifically listed my model number, too. For hardware that Dell refuses to sell me, claiming it doesn't exist.

But the best part is Dell support, who tell me the drivers I need are on their web site (they are -- at least they got that right). But how am I supposed to get them without a functioning ethernet connection? Load a trial AOL account and use the modem?

Fortunately I have a PCMCIA network card that Windows supports, so I was able to get things working again, but geeze, you shouldn't have to be a computer professional with a box of spare hardware just to get the damn drivers loaded -- they should all come on the Driver CD that comes with the computer out-of-the-box!

Last Dell I ever buy.

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Journal: Another submission 3

Journal by Rick the Red

Well, I've submitted another story. We'll see how long it takes to reject this one. The last one was stuck in "pending" for months...

Update: It was rejected in a matter of minutes. Wow, that's quite an improvement in response time!

On the off chance that anyone bothers to read my journal, my question is about data recovery. I'm in the middle of YetAnother DataRecoveryProject, and I'm wondering what's the best file system if eventual data recovery is the primary goal? In my experience, hard drive failure is a question of when, not if, so I might as well be ready for it. Yeah, I know -- backups. But what filesystem should I use for the backups? I'm leaning toward RAID, but I have zero experience with it. Given that I have IDE drives, should I put them on different controllers or doesn't that matter? What's the best RAID software for a nubie like me? I lean toward OpenBSD so that means RAIDframe, but is that the best for a beginner? Is any RAID software solution good for a beginner? Inquiring minds want to know!

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Journal: Still pending...

Journal by Rick the Red

I submitted a story on October 3, and it's still pending. I'll bet it remains so indefinately.

I should re-submit it, but it was so long ago I forget exactly what I wrote. FYI, it was an Ask Slashdot wondering how many here own their tools. I've worked exclusively at Fortune 500 companies, and they've all had a policy requiring use of corporate computers and software and forbiding personal tools (editors, IDEs, testing tools, laptops, etc.). At the same time, in their factories these same companies required workers to provide their own tools. I'm talking the sklled trades -- electricians, plumbers, mechanics, etc. I guess IT isn't a skilled trade. So, is this because IT tools are not standardized the way a plumber's or electrician's are? Or is it a holdover attitude from the Big Iron days?

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Journal: Metamoderation? 3

Journal by Rick the Red

Am I the only one who hasn't been offered Metamoderation in a few days? I used to MM every day, but it's been a while and now I wonder what I said to piss off the editors.

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Journal: How long to reject a story? 1

Journal by Rick the Red

I sumitted a story two weeks ago, and it's status is still "pending." Geeze, what are they waiting for? How long can it take to reject a story?

Update: Nov.3,2003 - now it's been exactly one month. Does anyone at Slashdot even read these things?

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Journal: WTF is up with the "Lameness Filter"? 1

Journal by Rick the Red

Geeze, what the fuck is up with the /. "lameness filter"? It's pretty damn lame itself, now. I just posted a quick one-liner. It didn't take long to write, and when I hit "submit" guess what?

Slow down, cowboy!

Slashdot requires you to wait 20 seconds between hitting 'reply' and submitting a comment.

It's been 19 seconds since you hit 'reply'!

OK, one second too fast. Big deal. Hit the "back" button and try again, right? WRONG! The text of my comment is GONE! Well, it was just a one-liner, so I re-type it and hit "submit".?

Slow down, cowboy!

Slashdot requires you to wait 20 seconds between hitting 'reply' and submitting a comment.

It's been 12 seconds since you hit 'reply'!

Sheesh! So now they wipe out what you've typed and re-set the timer? THIS IS LAME!

Fucking /. Makes you think they don't want anyone posting here. "This would be much more fun if all these lamers would go away" -- well, guess what, Taco? If you want a Blog, get one. If you want participation -- a community -- then you'll just have to put up with people snapping off a quick one-liner every once in a while, or you'll piss off all the "excellent" karma contributors and be left with the AC scum.

Or maybe that's what he wants.

...when fits of creativity run strong, more than one programmer or writer has been known to abandon the desktop for the more spacious floor. - Fred Brooks, Jr.

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