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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.

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.

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: A Prediction 4

Journal by orthogonal

If my prior comments on wikipedia are any guide, after the post drops off the front page, a wikipedia editor with mod points will mod-bomb all my (currently 5,5,5,4) comments in the Wikipedia story.

The wikipedia administration, for whatever reason, is extraordinarily defensive and hates to see criticism remain un-suppressed. If this is reminiscent of a cult, well, if the show fits....

User Journal

Journal: Tell Congress/WIPO: No B'cast Treaty Without Representation

Journal by Bruce Perens
Please read the alert here. The Broadcast Flag is back, this time as a WIPO treaty, and if you don't speak up, it'll be decided by bureaucrats without any democratic input at all.

The alert provides a web form to write to your congress person. Please do that. And please put the alert up elsewhere, so that other people can help too.

I'm in Washington DC working on this today, and your support will help.

Thanks

Bruce

Toys

Journal: Innate Gender Preferences in Toys 25 Million Years Old? 2

Journal by orthogonal

Some 25 million years ago, humans and vervet monkeys diverged from a common ancestor. In very rough terms, perhaps one and a quarter million human generations, or five million vervet generations, have been brought forth upon the Earth since that common ancestor lived. Of course, many differences have evolved between humans and vervets in those 25 million years: among other things, human parents choose toys for their children; vervet parents do not.

But after all that time and genetic change, and despite studies attributing human children's toy preferences to adult stereotypes, a new study by Dr. Gerianne Alexander finds that vervet males, like human boys, prefer toy trucks and balls, while vervet females and human girls prefer dolls and toy cooking pots. What's more, the vervets play with the toys much as human children do: males roll trucks on the ground, females inspect dolls (apparently) for genitalia. Previously on Slashdot: Harvard president Larry Summers and his daughter's "baby truck", Gender and gaming.

[Submitted and, of course, rejected.]

User Journal

Journal: Slashdot fans! Help me! 9

Journal by orthogonal

I've got a number of fans, and I've never asked for anything other than that you appreciate my comments here.

But now I need your help.

A spark jumped from my finger and now my Touchstream LP keyboard is dead. Like the parrot in the Python skit. Dead.

Windows plug-and-play doesn't recognize it at all.

So I need your help.

Can anyone either

  • suggest possible repairs
  • or, tell me where I can get a replacement?

Neither of these are easy: the keyboard uses capacitance to track fingers, so the spark may have burnt those out, or -- since it doesn't respond at all -- the main circuit board may be fried.

And the manufacturer of the Touchstream has been bought up, and Touchstream keyboards are no longer manufactured.

Please, Obi-Wan, ^HHHH er, Slashdot fans, you're my only hope.

User Journal

Journal: Nosebleeds aren't supposed to be serial

Journal by SeanDuggan
I usually don't write journal entries here on account of that I already have a regular weblog, two if you include my stealth LiveJournal site for responding to webcomic LJ communities, but had a significant enough experience that I thought to reproduce it here.

It all started on Friday, around 7:30 PM or so. I was working at my computer and got a spontaneous nosebleed. That's not that uncommon for me. I used to get frequent unprovoked nosebleeds when I was a child. The frequency slacked off as I got older, but I still get about one a year. So I waited for it to stop bleeding (it was what most people would probably see as a "bad" one in that the flow was steady enough to soak through two Kleenexes despite clamping, but as aforementionned, I'm used to it) then went off to help out in building the set for the next show at the local community theater. About two hours in, my nose started up again, this time with a steady enough flow that I made my way through two cotton handkerchiefs before it stopped. Well, once is chance and twice is coincidence, but it seemed like a decent chance something in the theater led to this state, sawdust, etc. I had a minor nosebleed on getting home, but nothing major. So, I headed off to bed. Woke up at 3AM with blood about to exit my nose. This was another gusher and it got me to worrying as I was getting these nosebleeds so I drove myself down to the mergency room where they told me they see nothing wrong with my nose. Essentially they handled it as a routine "dumb person goes to the E.R. to waste our time when all that's wrong is a bloody nose," gave me a nasal decongestant to shoot up my nose when the bleeding is down to the seeping level to shrink the blood vessels. Well, I've only had three more cases since then so maybe I'm on the mend. Last night, I got through eighteen hours without a bloody nose although unfortunately the record was broken with a bloodsoaked pillow that will probably never be the same again. Fortunatly, it was the only non-washable thing that got hit this time. *grumble* It's annoying having to look at my clothing and make my decision on what to wear based upon what's appropriate for the day's activities and what I can afford to lose if it gets soaked with blood and never washes clean.

I never cheated an honest man, only rascals. They wanted something for nothing. I gave them nothing for something. -- Joseph "Yellow Kid" Weil

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