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User Journal

Journal: in which i am a noob all over again 17

Journal by CleverNickName

I haven't posted a journal here in almost three years, because I couldn't find the button to start a new entry. ...yeah, it turns out that it's at the bottom of the page.

So... hi, Slashdot. I used to be really active here, but now I mostly lurk and read. I've missed you.

User Journal

Journal: a return which is long overdue (plus achievements!) 17

Journal by CleverNickName

I've lurked at /. without posting for ages, mostly because I just don't have the time to interact like I used to.

But I've been clicking through the old RSS feed more and more lately, and when I saw the PAX Plague thread today, I came over to comment, since I'm kind of affected by the whole damn thing. I thought I'd take a look around since I haven't been here in awhile, and I saw that there are freaking ACHIEVEMENTS associated with our accounts. It's silly, and I'm sure it's been here forever, but I thought it was awesome and I was delighted when I read it.

I didn't realize how much I missed Slashdot until I spent some time here today, and I bet that anyone who joined in the last 2 years doesn't even give a shit about my stupid comments or anything, but it felt good to come back here, and feel safely among my people again.

Power

Journal: Water-activated batteries (NoPoPo)

Journal by stefanlasiewski

The Japanese manufacturer Aqua Power Systems Japan is producing Water-activated battery in the AA and AAA sizes, with larger sizes and capacities on the way. As far as I can tell, this is the only commercial offering of these batteries in the AA and AAA form factors.

Liquid is injected into the batteries via a pipette, where it combines with magnesium & carbon to form the battery charge. It's rumored that these batteries have a 10-year shelf life while dry, and can be reused several times. They have a 500mAh capacity (Standard alkaline batteries produce 1700mAh or more), which is sufficient to power a flashlight for a while.

Sadly, many websites are getting distracted by the fact that these batteries can be posted by urine. Discussions of this product quickly degrade into a kindergarten mentality, and there aren't many serious reviews.

While the 500mAh capacity isn't great, I can definitely see this product for use in emergency kits. I keep a couple of flashlights in my car for emergencies or for late night hikes. Often these 'long life' alkaline batteries are often dead (or leaking) by the time I use the flashlight, which I only discover a year later while trying to repair a flat tire on the freeway at 10:00PM in the middle of nowhere. This seems to happen even if I leave the batteries in the original package. The temperature fluctuations inside a car probably worsen this problem.

This battery could solve the 'dead battery', because it remains inert and inactive until activated by water. And I have water in my car and in my home earthquake preparedness kits.

Pretty nifty technology.

I remember reading about a similar 'emergency' battery when I was younger. In this other version the battery remained inactive until you needed it. The battery contained two chambers separated by a seal. Water is contained in the top chamber, and the carbon & zinc cells in the bottom. You twisted the top, which broke the seal between the two chambers, and activated the battery. This battery didn't seem to go anywhere, and I have no idea if it ever reached production. I can't find it anywhere.

User Journal

Journal: Announcing the release of my new book 22

Journal by CleverNickName

This feels like a mega-spam entry, and I'm very self conscious about posting it, but I'm excited about this and I wanted to share . . .

I just published my third book, The Happiest Days of Our Lives. I mention it here because it's all about growing up in the 70s, and coming of age in the 80s as part of the D&D/BBS/video game/Star Wars figures generation, and I think a lot of Slashdot readers will relate to the stories in it.

I published a few of the stories on my blog, including Blue Light Special. It's about the greatest challenge a ten year-old could face in 1982: save his allowance, or buy Star Wars figures?

After our corduroy pants and collared shirts and Trapper Keepers and economy packs of pencils and wide-ruled paper were piled up in our cart, our mom took our three year-old sister with her to the make-up department to get shampoo and whatever moms buy in the make-up department, and my brother and I were allowed to go to the toy department.

"Can I spend my allowance?" I said.

"If that's what you want to do," my mom said, another entry in a long string of unsuccessful passive/aggressive attempts to encourage me to save my money for . . . things you save money for, I guess. It was a concept that was entirely alien to me at nine years old.

"Keep an eye on Jeremy," she said.

"Okay," I said. As long as Jeremy stood right at my side and didn't bother me while I shopped, and as long as he didn't want to look at anything of his own, it wouldn't be a problem.

I held my brother's hand as we tried to walk, but ended up running, across the store, past a flashing blue light special, to the toy department. Once there, we wove our way past the bicycles and board games until we got to the best aisle in the world: the one with the Star Wars figures.

I'm really proud of this book, and the initial feedback on it has been overwhelmingly positive. I've been reluctant to mention it here, because of the spam issue, but I honestly do think my stories will appeal to Slashdotters.

After the disaster with O'Reilly on Just A Geek, I've decided to try this one entirely on my own, so I'm responsible for the publicity, the marketing, the shipping, and . . . well, everything. If this one fails, it will be because of me, not because a marketing department insisted on marketing it as something it's not.

Of course, I hope I can claim the same responsibility if (when?) it finds its audience . . . which would be awesome.

User Journal

Journal: California threatens to close innovative computer recycler

Journal by stefanlasiewski

The Alameda County Computer Resource Center is an innovative computer recycler in Berkeley, CA. They are an environmentalists dream-- all waste is reused when possible, the rest is recycled. No waste is shipped to questionable trash dumps overseas. Locally, the ACCRC provides computers to local schools and nonprofits.

During the Makers Faire in San Mateo, California, the ACCRC brought in tons of computer and electronic parts which were salvaged and reused for various projects.

Sadly, the State of California is threatening to shut down the ACCRC, mostly for failing to maintain an inventory of all of their computer equipment, and for keeping interesting/historical equipment onsite (a Computer Museum), instead of destroying the equipment.

I've been using ACCRC (and their predecessors) for years, and I've volunteered for several Linux installfest events using their hardware. I sincerely hope that State is able to work with the ACCRC and reach a compromise.

Update: 10/02 23:46 GMT by stefanlasiewski:

My journal has been referenced on the front page article Major Linux Hardware Donor Is a CNN "Hero", which is about the ACCRC founder and manager, James Burgett.

I had this journal entry sitting in my Wordpress blog queue for the last couple of weeks, waiting for the final edit. I saw the article about the ACCRC coming down the firehose, and posted it here since it seemed relevant.

Supercomputing

Journal: i need a new computer - advice? 29

Journal by CleverNickName

Simple tasks like switching between Firefox and Thunderbird are driving the load on my machine up over 4, and if I'm trying to run Amarok at the same time, it drives it up to 8. In fact, my machine frequently climbs up into the 7-9 range, bringing my apps to a crawl and frustrating the hell out of me.

So I've decided it's time to buy a new computer. I'm going to replace my aging Sony Vaio desktop machine (which runs Linux) with something newer that has more RAM, a faster processor, and a bigger hard drive.

The thing is, I'm not entirely sure where to start looking. A quick walk through Circuit City a month or so ago lead me to believe I can get a rather "big" computer for as low as five hundred bucks, which further leads me to believe that if I were to buy something online, I can get a huge pile of RAM, a fast processor, and a big honkin' hard drive for even less.

I run Kubuntu, and use KDE as my desktop (though I occasionally switch to Gnome when I get bored) and I mostly use Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice.org, Amarok, and run PokerStars in wine. I'm looking for something that can do all of that without slowing my machine to a crawl.

Anyone have any suggestions on where to start looking?

Edit: I don't think I have the patience to build my own machine out of individual parts. I also don't have any real loyalty to any particular company or architecture. New Egg has lots of machines with AMD processors, and though I've always had Intel processors because more things seemed to run on x86, that's not as much of an issue as it once was, right?

Editorial

Journal: Oil Industry-sponsored FUD at Slashdot? 12

Journal by CleverNickName

I am absolutely stunned that Slashdot's editors would give credibility to a completely false story, pushed by a paid industry PR professional. As Rugrat said,

The "article" is not an article, but a press release written by an employee of a public affairs company.

"Tom Harris is mechanical engineer and Ottawa Director of High Park Group, a public affairs and public policy company."

For a website that spends so much time and energy combating FUD from Microsoft, and the MPAA and RIAA, it is baffling that FUD that was paid for and is pushed by the oil industry would make the front page here.

Come on, Slashdot. You can do better.

Debian

Journal: So, About Dapper . . . 24

Journal by CleverNickName

For the last year or so, I've been happily using Debian, with a mixture of sources so I was stable, but current, just like nearly everyone who uses Debian.

Then I tried to upgrade or something insane like that, using aptitude, and the whole thing went tits up on me. No amount of cussing, kicking things, or actual tinkering with the software could save my machine.

I thought about asking for some advice in the Debian forums, or on one of the lists, until I ran out of fingers in my entire family tree to count the times someone said some variant of, "Shut up, noob! Your stoopid and not leet leik I am! Go back to Winblows! Ha! HA! HA!!!1"

Yeah. Guess I'm not venturing into those waters, so I figured I'd just have to grab my network install CD and start over (luckily, I set up /home on its own partition a long time ago, so if I fuck something up really bad, I don't lose all my porn very important data.

The day I planned to reinstall Debian, I read that Dapper Drake had been released, and everyone loved it so much, they totally wanted to marry it. A friend of mine, who is wise in the ways of science and the air speed velocity of unladen swallows has also been singing the praises of Ubuntu for a long, long time, so I grabbed a Live CD to see what all the fuss was about.

Holy shit. What an awesome bit of work it is! It's the first Linux distro to find every single bit of hardware on my old Sony Vaio desktop machine, including all the USB ports. It looked great, too, and was the most "Mac-like" Linux I've ever used.

I realize that a lot of you are mocking me right now, but listen for a second: I'm not interested in hacking on my kernel to make sure something is detected during boot, or modifying all sorts of settings in a text editor just so I can make the damn thing find my camera . . . and don't get me started about CUPS. I love technology, and I love and fully believe in "free" as in speech, and I'm grateful for free as in beer. But also really into "works," as in just does. And on my machine here, Dapper Drake just works, and it's awesome. This is the Linux distro that I can take to my parents, and to my friends who are drowning in a sea of FUD, and convince them that they don't really have to be part of the Borg if they don't want to.

And ultimately, I believe that has to be our goal if we're going to convince people to give Linux a real, serious try as an alternative to Windows. We need to be able to tell them, with confidence, "Put this CD in your machine, and give it a try. I think you'll like it, because it just works."

User Journal

Journal: Linuxworld SF 2006: Unreal, dotOrg Pavilion & Segregation

Journal by stefanlasiewski

Gah, I barely made it to Linuxworld this week for a couple hours. I've worked at two businesses 3 blocks from the Moscone Center, so I try to go to the big Expos every year.

Highlights:

- Unreal Tournament- Sun was showing off their new workstations using Unreal Tournament. They held a competition, with prizes like a nice Apparently myAmygdala did pretty well.

I did pretty well at first--I was in the lead for about 3 minutes, and this was my first time playing Unreal Tournament. but then got snookered by the 'R' key. On other FPS games, the 'R' key typically for 'Reload'. In Unreal Tournament however, it stands for 'Chat"--so instead of reloading the gun, I kept getting the Chat prompt, filled it with phrases like "wwwasda awsdawdwww" and promptly got fragged. They would not let me redefine the keybinding, so I ended up dead last.

- The dotOrg Pavilion: I'm mostly interested in the projects at the dotOrg pavilion-- KDE, Gnome, Debian, the LTSP, OpenGroupware.org, X.org always have good, fun exhibits. I spent 2 hours talking to the developers up there. Great folks. I got several bootable CDs, inclusing the new CAOs distro which apparently was started by some smart folks that I knew at the Lawrence Berkeley Labs, a bootable version of the Mambo CMS product

- O'Reilly's Make 3.0 is coming out: I signed up for a subscription and got version 3.0 of the Magazine. This one has a couple appropriate articles on Halloween tricks, so I'll be sure to check it out.

Lowlights:

- Segregation: The big commercial vendors were all in the big huge hall downstairs. The dotOrg Pavilion and a handful of other commercial vendors were hidden up on the second floor. I bet many attendees did not know they were there.

Perhaps this is actually a good thing. With the huge loudspeakers & noise of the commercial vendors in a different room, you could actually have a fun, pleasant conversation with the dotOrg folks.

The Moscone Center hosted a huge Coin Show two weeks ago, and they had a similar setup. The commercial coin vendors were all downstairs in the big exhibit hall, the nonprofit & government booths were upstairs.

- OReilly Booth: The OReilly folks always put on a nice set of educational presentations. This year their microphone/speaker didn't work at all, and you could barely hear the speakers over the ruckus of the Novell/IBM/HP/Sun areas.

Announcements

Journal: play poker for a good cause on sunday july 17th 6

Journal by CleverNickName

(Cross-posted to WWdN)

The final table of the 2005 World Series of Poker started at 4pm yesterday afternoon, and wasn't finished until just after 7am today. I'm not sure, but I think that's a record. I'd call Pauly to be sure, but something tells me he's crashed out until at least Sunday.

Two qualifiers from PokerStars made the final table, and one guy, who qualified using free play points, made it to the final two tables, finished in 13th place, and won $400,000. Not bad for a freeroll!

Speaking of Pauly and PokerStars, we're doing a charity tournament on Sunday in memory of Pauly's friend Charlie Tuttle:

Charlie is from Clarksville, Tennessee and he's a twenty-six year old music enthusiast who loves hanging out and playing poker with his friends. Charlie was dealt a bad hand in life when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, which he has been battling this past year. A couple of weekends ago, he was hospitalized because two tumors in his chest pressed up against his lungs, causing him breathing problems. I don't have to tell you how serious his condition was.

Felicia Lee, who is fighting her own battle with cancer, knows several top professional poker players, so she got several of her friends to call Charlie: John Juanda, Marcel Luske, Max Pescatori, and Barry Greenstein to name a few. In fact, when Barry Greenstein won his bracelet in the $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha event, he dedicated it to Charlie.

As Pauly wrote:

Situations like this one make you reassess what's really important in life. Las Vegas is a city built on greed. Poker is a game that often attracts some of the lowest forms of life. However, in the past two weeks, there has been a small group of professional poker players who have earned my respect and admiration. Amidst all the darkness and debauchery, I have caught a few glimpses of the bright side of humanity. The hearts of some of the biggest sharks in Las Vegas are filled with compassion.

Thank you, Charlie, for inspiring us all. We'll never forget you.

Charlie passed away on June 22 and his friends have organized a charity poker tournament this Sunday at PokerStars. It's going to be a lot of fun, and I hope to see lots of WWdN readers there.

Details:

SUNDAY, JULY 17th
18:00 EDT (15:00 CDT)
PokerStars
Buy-in is $20 — all of it goes to charity.
"WPBT Charlie Tournament" under Tourneys -> Private tab in the lobby

The Internet

Journal: a little help? 28

Journal by CleverNickName

I'm sure this is just begging for vandalism (unless those douchebags have grown up and finally kissed a girl) . . . but there is an error on my Wikipedia page that needs to be corrected. I'd do it myself, but that's against Wikipedia editing policy.

I am not in Brother Bear. Willie Wheaton, Wil Wheaton, Jr., and Reginald Maudling (Mrs.) are all not me. I've tried to get this taken off imdb, but someone (well-intentioned, I'm sure) keeps putting it back, and Wikipedia editors (also well-intentioned) are putting Brother Bear back up . . . so we're in an infinite improbability loop, and my towel is getting dirty.

Would someone please correct that, and cite this journal entry so it doesn't get corrected back?

It's funny.  Laugh.

Journal: Number of diapers changed in your lifetime? (rejected)

Journal by stefanlasiewski

I submitted a poll. It wasn't rejected right away which was a good sign that it might be accaped. But, alas it was rejected.

I've always been curious how many ./ers are parents, uncles, or have been around babies at all.

Number of diapers changed in your lifetime?

  1. None, Cowboyneal was born potty-trained!
  2. 1 - 10 : Occasionally baby-sit for my sister/friend/mother.
  3. 10 - 100 : Newborn! He's so cute!
  4. 100 - 1,000 : Yo kid! It's 3AM, let me sleep!
  5. 1,000-10,000 : I use a KSH script to automate repetitive tasks.
  6. 10,000+ : Perl is better for messy situations.
  7. The goggles, they do nothing!!!

2004-11-16 23:18:07 Number of diapers changed in your lifetime? (Polls,It's funny. Laugh.) (rejected)

Editorial

Journal: Too many social networks is anti-social: Tribe, Orkut, LJ 1

Journal by stefanlasiewski

One of the more recent trends in the Internet world is the concept of Social Network's and the Semantic Web. Social Networks are supposed to make it easier for you to interact with friends and communities online and make the web function more on a human scale.

Some of us remember Six Degrees, who tried to do this years ago and went under, and are coming back with a new site. I have had email lists for this sort of thing going for over 10 years now, and participated in newsgroup-type systems years ago, done the personal webpage thing, etc.

The Social Network sites offer great feature over my old, archaic mailinglists-- Friend-of-a-friend networking, personal journals, the ability to form interest groups, etc.

I'm looking to settle on one or two sites for my journaling wants. I'm looking for a Blog/Journal; flexible look-and-feel; User communities so I can talk to people with similar interests, ask technical questions, etc.; and a Friend-of-a-Friend service. I'd like the service to be indexed by search engines so that I'm not just speaking to a closed group.

Here is a short list of the communities I have participated in recently. There are dozens (hundreds) more:

Friendster - Probably the most well known. A "Bulletin Board", ,
Tribe.net - Like Friendster combined with Craig's List and a heavy influence of Burning Man. Pretty cool. Event listing, classifieds, but no journal capability! Arg!!!
Orkut - Invite only, which makes it more scalable and more "elite". Closed to the outside world which means that non-member's can't use your information at all.
Livejournal - One of the first Blogging sites. Confusing interface.
Blogspot/Blogger - Like LJ, but with a great flexible look-and-feel.
Slashdot - I have a ton of friends and foes on this site, but the journaling aspect leaves alot to be desired.

Here is my problem. There are many (too many?) social networking sites. Each site is isolated within it's own separate universe, with little or no interaction between the various sites. The lack of interaction adds an artificial barrier within the whole social networking idea. If one friend uses Friendster another uses Tribe, and another uses Livejournal; there is no interaction between these tools.

Likewise, I will post this journal text to the journal in each of my social networking accounts as an experiment. Unfortunately, the responses to each individual journal entry will remain separate, with no social interaction between the readers.

So my choice is to:

- Use all of the sites (too much work!)
- Look at different sites, become overwhelmed and give up (This is where I've been for the last several years)
- Pick one and stick with it
- Do it all on my own server, run it over my DSL line. This is also alot of work, and it there is no way for me to participate in the FOAF's out there.

Arg, what to do? What to do?

Movies

Journal: Starsky and Hutch 12

Journal by CleverNickName

I just got back from Starsky and Hutch.

Surprisingly funny. I bet the DVD will be great.

Best part was how anyone in the theatre under 30 didn't get about 70% of the best jokes.

Now I'm hoping that they'll make a CHiPs movie. I wonder what other late 70s to early 80s TV shows would translate well into movies?

Oh, and if you're not watching TRIO every night, you're really missing out on some fantastic television.

Sentient plasmoids are a gas.

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