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Journal Journal: The Muse 1

If this is mangled, go here.
        I received a strange note, made of cut up magazines pasted to paper and slipped under my door. It read âoeYour muse has been kidnapped. If you want her back, meet under the Facebook Street Bridge after dark. Bring your wallet, passport, and an umbrella.â
        Crap, my muse was gone? I looked, and sure enough it was missing. It's really important to me, so I got my passport, made sure my wallet was in my pocket, and took an umbrella, even though the weatherman said there was no chance of rain. I went to the bridge around sunset and waited.
        The weatherman was wrong. As I waited under the bridge it started pouring. A little after dark a black limousine pulled up, and the rear door opened. âoeGet in,â a woman's voice said. I did.
        A mean looking short haired blonde in the front passenger seat was pointing a very large black handgun at me. âoeYou're not Neo,â the skinny dark haired girl in the back said accusingly.
        âoeMe?â I replied, scared to death. Or scared of death, maybe. âoeNo, I'm mcgrew, I don't know any Neo. I'm missing some property and someone said to wait under this bridge and I could get it back.â
        âoeOh,â said the blonde, putting the gun away. âoeMorpheus said to give you this,â and handed my muse to me!
        I put my muse in my jacket and started to open the door. The blonde had her gun out again. âoeFifty bucks, asshole!â
        I gave her two twenties and a ten. âoeWhy was I told to bring a passport?â I asked. The dark haired skinny girl laughed. âoeMorpheous was just fucking with you. Now get out!â
        I still can't figure out what that was all about...

User Journal

Journal Journal: I don't watch TV or read news magazines or anything and I just found this... 13

There's that guy, the HIV drug price gouger guy, named Martin Shkreli. I hadn't been to Cracked in a long time but I was bored and I needed amusement. Holy shit! I'm not usually a violent person and, really, I honestly hadn't given two shits about this story until just now.

That dude has the most punchable face I have ever seen. Seriously, I'd take the $500 fine and time served to punch him in the face. I bet I can break his jaw in just one punch - and I'm just a little fella at exactly 172 pounds (I am almost always exactly that weight) and 5' 11". I'm really just a fairly little person and I'm still reasonably certain that I'd hear a nice satisfying crunchy sound.

I still don't really give a shit about the story and I'm still kind of curious where he's going with this (besides prison) but I really want to crack him in the jaw. How odd, really. I'm normally really not that violent at all. It's not like it'd be a felony so I'd not lose my right to bear arms. I'd not use a weapon or anything. I'd just crack him once in the jaw and then laugh until they came and arrested me. I'd then bail out. I'd plea bargain for time served, a $500 fine, and pay his hospital bills after a civil trial. It'd be so worth it.

Maybe I can get the missus to record it on her phone. I got her a new phone the other day and she's been busy recording most everything that moves and a few things that don't move. I've since suggested she go get a real video recording device so maybe she'll find one that she likes and pick that up. Then, I just need to find Mr. Martin Shkreli and see if he minds if she records it while I crack him in the jaw. I'm a polite person, after all. It'd only be the proper thing to ask his opinion on the matter. He might want the recording for court. It's not like a misdemeanor and a civil trial scare me. Hell, it won't even have been the first time I've been in a situation like that. It will be the first time I've had someone record the evidence.

How does he make it through the day without someone constantly running up and cracking him in the jaw? It's truly the most punchable face that I recall seeing.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Wierd Planet

I doubt the magazines will want this and I haven't given you guys any new stories for months. Since slashdot won't fix its text mangler I've posted it here.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Can't Log In from My Laptop 11

I can't log in to slashdot from my laptop. Every browser - and even from a browser running on a vm - it always fails. Not sure why but as long as it persists my posting will be less frequent.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Fifteen: The Final Chapter 4

It's that time of year again. The time of year when everyone and their dog waxes nostalgic about all the shit nobody cares about from the year past, and stupidly predicts the next year in the grim knowledge that when the next New Year comes along nobody will remember that the dumbass predicted a bunch of foolish shit that turned out to be complete and utter balderdash. I might as well, too. Just like I did last year (yes, a lot of this was pasted from last year's final chapter).

I've lost the URL to my slashdot "messages", damn it!

Some of these links go to S/N since they don't have slashdot's patented text mangler. Stories and articles meant to ultimately be published in a printed book have smart quotes, and slashdot isn't smart enough for smart quotes.

As usual, first: the yearly index. Articles and stories slashdot has mangled the text in are at S/N without the mangling. Slashdot should be ashamed!

Journals:
the Paxil Diaries
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014

2015 articles:
Where's my damned tablet?
Are printed books' days numbered?
A suggestion to mobile browser makers and the W3C
Futurists...
"My God! It's full of fail!" -David Bowman
Where's my fridge??
1950s TV
What a mess!

Sci-Fi:
Nobots
Mars, Ho!
Yesterday's Tomorrows
Stupid Tourist!
Amnesia
Stealth
Voyage to Earth
Plutus' Revenge

There are six more stories finished and one started, but I'm giving the magazines first crack at them. They are:

Dewey's War
The Exhibit
Sentience
The Naked Truth
Cornodium
Weird Planet
Trouble on Ceres
The Prisoner

All except The Prisoner are finished or in final edit except The Prisoner. That one has me stuck, and it may never be finished.

Last years' stupid predictions:
I got one wrong; Random Scribblings didn't come out. I could have published it this year, but since the subtitle is "Junk I've Littered the Internet With for Two Decades" I decided to add this years scribblings and a little of next year's to it.

This year's predictions: same as last year's, with one addition. I'm not going to predict publication of Voyage to Earth and Other Stories because chances are it won't be done. As I write this the stories finished so far make up 36,000 words, which is halfway there at least. But I will predict:

Someone will die. Not necessarily anybody I know...
SETI will find no sign of intelligent life. Not even on Earth.
The Pirate Party won't make inroads in the US. I hope I'm wrong about that one.
US politicians will continue to be wholly owned by the corporations.
I'll still be a nerd.
You'll still be a nerd.
technophobic fashionista jocks will troll slashdot.
Slashdot will be rife with dupes.
Many FPs will be poorly edited.
Slashdot still won't have fixed its patented text mangler.
Microsoft will still suck

Happy New Year! Ready for another trip around the sun?

User Journal

Journal Journal: What a mess! 2

I was watching the morning news the other day, and opened the computer to record KSHE's "Lone Klassic"... and it was in Linux. What the hell? Apparently I should have shut it off the night before, because Microsoft had apparently installed an update and then rudely and maliciously rebooted the computer. It was in Linux because kubuntu is the default OS in GRUB. So I rebooted again, selected Windows, and the little thing came up and... just sat there. Ten minutes later I still had a black screen.

I pulled the battery and tried again. Ten minutes later and I still had a black screen. So when I'd yanked the battery again and restarted it, I selected "Windows Recovery" from GRUB. An Acer screen came up with selections for reinstalling Windows. The first wiped the hard drive, the second kept your files. I picked that one; there was data on the hard drive I hadn't backed up in a few days, including a new story I'd started the night before and was on a roll with.

Twenty minutes later the first progress bar said "1%".

I'd decided a long time ago to get a DVD burner for the old Dell, until about three weeks ago when I'd taken it apart to install the video card and hard drive from the old HP that had computed its last. There were no slots that would fit the card (older computer than I thought, I guess) and the drive ribbon was a single drive ribbon. I probably have a spare double drive ribbon in the basement, but since the card wouldn't work in the Dell, there really wasn't any point. I'd decided then to get an old laptop that already had a DVD burner. So this was the time, because I had writing to do and the install was going to take all day and half the night.

I drove to the pawn shop and bought an HP laptop with Windows 7 and a DVD burner. It's a lot bigger than I like a laptop to be, but the smaller, cheaper one with a DVD burner ran Window 8, and I didn't want to deal with that garbage. Windows 7 is still the least annoying and least problematic of all of MS's OSes.

Of course I had to download Windows Defender and Firefox with IE, install Firefox, uninstall Norton and McAfee and Bing Bar and all the other effluent that comes with a new computer, reconfigure everything, and download and install Open Office and all the other programs I need.

Meanwhile, the Windows reinstall on the Acer had hung. Damn, I was going to lose everything I'd written the day before, since Windows had surely overwritten GRUB. I got lucky; it hadn't. So I went into Linux to copy everything to thumb drives, since I still can't get it on my network (time to try a new distro). I even found some movies I thought I'd permanently deleted by mistake months ago!

After I saved the data on thumb drives I rebooted again, went back into Windows restore and let it wipe the drive. That was the next morning, and it took all day. By then I had the new laptop running pretty smoothly and was writing again. The next day was mostly spent getting the old Acer back to normal. I was amazed and pleased that it had destroyed neither Grub nor Linux.

I'd lost a few passwords and haven't yet reset them all, and lost all my bookmarks.

That new computer is too big, but it's a lot faster than the Acer.

So I turn the TV on this morning and it wouldn't pick up channel 49. Flipped through the stations, and all of them had really screwy colors. I have my fingers crossed that it's the converter and not the TV, since the converter had fallen off the shelf last night. I hope it is, because they're not expensive and TVs are. I'll find out when I play a DVD.

User Journal

Journal Journal: 1950s TV 5

If this won't render properly just go here

        A year or so ago, an executive from an electronics company (Apple, if I remember correctly) spoke of the lack of innovation in television sets since the 1950s, and my reaction was âoeHeâ(TM)s either stupid or thinks I am.â
        In the 1950s televisions had knobs on the set for changing channels. Remote controls were brand new, expensive, limited in capability, and used ultrasound rather than infra-red.
        The screens were vacuum tubes, and most were monochrome. Color television was brand new, and it was nearly 1960 before any stations started broadcasting in color. Rather than being rectangular, color sets were almost round; even black and white sets werenâ(TM)t true rectangles.
        They had no transistors, let alone integrated circuits; the IC had yet to be invented, and transistors were only used by the military. They were a brand-new invention. TVs didnâ(TM)t have the âoeno user-servicable partsâ warning on the back. When the TV wouldnâ(TM)t come on, as happened every year or three, the problem was almost always a burned out vacuum tube. One would open the back of the set and turn it on. Any tubes that werenâ(TM)t lit were pulled, taken to the drug store or dime store for replacement. If that didnâ(TM)t fix the problem you called an expert TV repairman.
        The signal was analog, and often or usually suffered from static in the sound, and ghosts and snow in the picture.
        There was no cable, and of course no satellite television since nothing built by humans had ever gone into space.
        However, there is one thing about television that hasnâ(TM)t changed a single iota: daytime TV programming.
        In the 1950s most folks were well paid, and a single paycheck could easily pay for a familyâ(TM)s expenses. Most women, especially mothers, stayed home. As a result, daytime TV was filled with female-centric programming like soap operas, game shows, and the like. Usually there were cartoons in the late afternoon for the kids.
        Today the rich have managed to get wages down so low that everyone has to have a job. The demographics of daytime television have radically changed as a result. Now, rather than housewives (of which few are left, and we now have house husbands), who can watch daytime TV? Folks home from work sick, both men and women, folks in the hospital, the unemployed, and retired people.
        Yet daytime TV is still as female centered as it was when I was five. Soap operas, talk shows with female hosts and female guests discussing topics that would only appeal to women, and game shows.
        Whatâ(TM)s wrong with the idiots running our corporations these days?

User Journal

Journal Journal: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress while listening to Time by ELO 1

Don't know why - but I really like that combination.

I've gotten off my schedule of reading Starship Troopers and TMiaHM every year - but I did just reread The Moon is a Harsh Mistress last week-end. My wife was in Ukraine and I was kind of bored but not motivated enough to do something that took effort.

I've outgrown RAH's politics but I still love the story.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Magnet Links from Chrome in Plasma 5 3

For some reason magnet links that I clicked in Chrome were opening the Transmission client instead of Ktorrent. I remember doing something in the past related to this - though I think the issue then was that chrome didn't know how to handle them at all.

So I started digging and founds all kinds of people who had the issue, different solutions and most of it was pretty old. The lowdown - as far as I can tell is that chrome uses xdg-open and I'm pretty sure that is what I set.

I looked in /usr/share/applications for ktorrent.desktop and it wasn't there. I did a bunch more digging, followed some rabbit trails and then finally got smart. ktorrent.desktop was in /usr/share/applications/kde4 and I copied it a directory up. Then all acted as expected.

I think in the upgrade this got borked.

Plasma 5 is mostly pretty much working for me now. I'd have rather stayed on 4 longer but I guess it is o.k. I really just need a new machine. They keep making stuff take more resources and my little Acer just can't keep up.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Ask Slashdot: What SF Magazines do you read? 2

I'm actually looking for two things: good magazines I haven't found, and good magazines to submit science fiction stories to. I also want to know where I can find your favorite magazines; I've been getting them at the Barnes&Noble in town, but they sell out quickly. Once all they had was three copies of F&SF, and I found it to be excellent. Another time I found five titles, but I haven't seen Asimov's there, and I always liked that one.

Analog was excellent as well, as they've always been. The British Interzone was very well designed, with excellent layout and large amounts of excellent artwork, but I didn't like any of the writing. It just didn't suit my taste.

I have yet to find any decent online mags, I'm sure you guys can supply me with that.

User Journal

Journal Journal: F21 - F22 Today 6

Support for Fedora 21 is coming to an end and so I decided to upgrade to Fedora 22.

I don't run the default Fedora install, I use the KDE spin. I realize KDE isn't the primary desktop for Fedora, but until now it's been alright. I use Fedora for a lot of reasons but mostly because it is the distro I know. I know it because it is the first distro I used on a regular basis for more than just messing around. I did that because at my work we got a new server running RedHat.

I've really been putting off this update. It's the move from KDE Plasma 4 to 5.

It's taken me all day but I think I have it working. I'm scared to reboot and the next time I have to run an update will probably suck. I had so many stupid things happen today trying to get this to work. The kicker is my second display. Everything is fine if I use the built-in intel graphics or my Nvidia card with one display. But as soon as I added the second everything went to crap.

There were times I could only log into KDE as root. Then - and I'm not sure how - I got it fixed. I mean there is still some weird stuff happening but it seems to mostly work. Both monitors are on and displaying at the resolution I want.

Maybe I can hang in there long enough for this stuff to get smoothed over. I made it through the jump from 3 to 4.

The kicker is though - if I log into Gnome it works without any issues. It's just that I hate Gnome.

I don't use RHEL any more - maybe I need to jump over to Suse or something.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Where's my fridge?? 24

I plan to buy a house next spring, so I'll almost certainly need a new refrigerator. There's a problem: they don't make the fridge I want, and never have. I can't figure out why.
        Refrigerators today are quite different than antique ones, using a different coolent because of the ozone layer, better insulation, the use of rare earth magnets in the motors, and other improvements.
        But they're still incredibly wasteful.
        The fridge I want has two vents outside, much like dryer vents but insulated. There is an electronic outside thermometer, one in the refrigerator, and one inside the freezer.
        When the temperature outside is above seventy fareignheight, the heat taken from the fridge is vented outside, so the air conditioner doesn't have to work harder to cool the hot air refrigerators let out inside the house.
        Under seventy the air is vented into, rather than outside, the house. If the heat is on, it doesn't work as hard.
        But most of all is winter. It's ludicrous that we pump the heat from our freezers with a lot of energy expenditure, while freezing air is right outside that could come in the intake hose and freeze and cool your food. At freezing, this fridge doesn't need the compressor at all and compressors take a lot of energy to operate.
        I don't know why nobody is selling those things.

User Journal

Journal Journal: To the cow guy...

kgiii@kgiii-desktop-8:~$ fortune | cowsay >> /home/kgiii/Documents/moo.txt

kgiii@kgiii-desktop-8:~$ leafpad /home/kgiii/Documents/moo.txt

  ________________________________________
/ Just because the message may never be \
| received does not mean it is not worth |
\ sending. /
  ----------------------------------------
                \ ^__^
                  \ (oo)\_______
                    (__)\ )\/\
                      ||----w |
                      || ||

How very appropriate. Formatting is a bit screwed but still appropriate.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Vivaldi - it's not that bad.

I've been playing with Vivaldi a little bit lately. It is a pretty interesting concept and one I've not really seen before. Much of it is written in HTML5, it's fairly easy to customize, and has a lot of interesting features. It is currently in the Technical Preview Stage, consider it more of a concept, and there are plenty of bugs but it's workable and has some traits not seen in other browsers.

Probably the most interesting one is that here, on this site, it matches the green color that is Slashdot. Yes, it's just colors itself like a chameleon depending on where you are. You can, it seems, also change the colors on your own but I've not actually looked into that.

It currently takes a bit of work to get extensions installed but the extensions from Chrome (and also Opera) should all work just fine with it. It's built on the same code base as Chromium. Which means it also inherits some of the Chromium problems. Currently, for example, there's no H.264 support for Linux users and the work-around for Opera probably won't work for Vivaldi.

There's no switch to disable hardware acceleration so you'll need to start it from the terminal until Chromium gets off their asses and gets that squared away (the problem is upstream). You can start it from the terminal with:

vivaldi --disable-gpu-compositing

Give it a shot. You might find it interesting and, as it is still early in development, you may be able to help guide them into crafting a browser that meets your needs. Also, they're giving away free webmail but, really, who doesn't already have enough webmail accounts available? I can only assume that it will support POP3 and IMAP later in life.

What say you, Slashdot? Can we screw it up beyond belief? Yes we can! Seriously, give it a shot. You might find it an interesting browser. I'll keep playing with it for now.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Plutus' Revenge

It was the only life-bearing planet in the entire universe; the very first planet to have life. It was the only planet in existence to have the conditions necessary for biogenesis, including being a double planet, each orbiting each other. The double planet was one of the keys of biogenesis, because of the tides. The timing of orbits and gravities had to be perfect, as well as chemical and photonic conditions.

        Life has a hard time getting started. This was the first planet on which it was possible. It would be billions of years before any other planet had these conditions.

        In time, its rotation slowed as its sister planet Theia went farther away and took up an eccentric orbit around the star.

        It was a very rich planet. Rich in metals, rich in diversity of vegetation once life had evolved that far, vast riches of water, and very rich in hydrocarbons. It was rich in chemicals and conditions conducive to abiogenesis. One of the planet's fauna evolved to the point of sentience, then the arts, than the sciences, until their technologies were very advanced. By the time this had come about, though, the slightly smaller sister had wandered away. The Vulcans never knew of it.

        The Vulcans were a very religious people who worshiped Plutus, a god everyone could see and love. When the heretic prophet Ragnarok was twenty three, he warned them that Plutus had told him to inform everyone that he was commanding them to explore outer space, that there were vast riches there, and their very existence depended on it.

        But space exploration isn't cheap, and the Vulcans couldn't see any monetary payback, only expense. Space travel wasn't started.

        Fifty years later Ragnarok spoke of an evil that only Plutus could save them from, and said it was on its way, and called it Theia. He spoke before a crowd one day, saying Plutus had spoken to him in a dream. As they listened intently, he informed them that their god was angry because they had never left Vulcan and was going to destroy the Vulcans, and Ragnarok and his family were the only ones who would survive the cataclysm unless he told anyone of his dream, in which case he would die instantly and his family would perish as well. His blasphemy was met with a storm of stones, and he died there broken and bloody. The mob then murdered his family and set his house on fire.

        But Ragnarok was right. The rich are never satisfied with their riches, so poured more and more of their seemingly limitless hydrocarbon riches into industry and commerce, all worshiping Plutus with all their hearts. Technology brought wealth, and was developed to a very high degree.

        A century after the would-be savior Ragnarok was stoned to death, the Vulcan culture was already in decline. They developed space travel, but they never saw the signs of the decline. The denizens of a declining civilization never do. But space travel was developed despite its seemingly nonexistent to meager payoff, and a colony was planted on the next planet out from theirs, the third, and another on the fourth. The third planet was uninhabitable because of its almost completely nitrogen atmosphere, and space men and women had to wear oxygen masks and very heavy clothing outside. It was very cold there, having very low concentrations of greenhouse gasses. The planet was called âoeSchneeâ.

        Schnee was the reason space travel was actually developed on Vulcan. Vulcan had been much like Raj a few centuries earlier, but had gradually warmed, becoming hotter and drier. The area near the equator become a desert with fewer and fewer forms of life, and its oceans started shrinking, the water entering the atmosphere as vapor and staying there. Collecting this water was very expensive, so they started looking at Schnee for water. It was a hard life for the scientists and ice miners there, many of whom froze to death.

        The fourth planet, Raj, was much nicer. It had a nitrogen atmosphere with plenty of oxygen for animals to breathe, and carbon dioxide for plants to breathe and warm the planet, so had very comfortable temperatures near its equator. Scientists were there before too long, followed by rich tourists, followed by rich immigrants who went for its beautiful weather and the wonderful Marineris Ocean's seashores. As Vulcan became hotter, Raj became the star's ruling planet. All still worshiped Plutus.

        Vulcan was dying, but wasn't yet dead when Theia returned. It had been in its eccentric orbit for billions of years, its orbits often changed drastically by a gas giant and a ringed planet.

        Theia seemed to be headed directly to Raj! It came very close, its gravity from its larger mass than Raj's and its nearly all iron composition tearing away almost all of Raj's atmosphere. Animals, including the sentient Rajians whose ancestors had immigrated from Vulcan died in hours. Flora came to its end shortly later.

        Raj's gravity altered Theia's course, and it was now headed directly to Schnee. Vulcan had fallen so far that its meager population of Vulcans had no idea of the destruction that had hit Raj, now dead, and what awaited Schnee. It mattered not to them, for they knew that they were doomed. Ragnarok's prophesy was well on its way to being true -- but no one would be left alive to tell tales of the blasphemous prophet.

        The Vulcans on Schnee saw Theia coming, but were helpless to do anything about it. There were few of them left, as well.

        At first it was a white dot in the night sky that got brighter and brighter every evening, then bigger and bigger. Before long it was a huge circle. It hit Schnee with tremendous force, releasing tremendous energies. It made a giant splash of molten rock and metal, and steam from the suddenly boiled ice. Vulcans who still had binoculars could see rings around Schnee, but there were few Vulcans, let alone binoculars. They, the few animals, meager vegetation, and microbes in Schnee's atmosphere that had ridden to Schnee with the Vulcans were the only life in the entire universe.

        Plutus had his revenge, making Vulcan so hot anything combustible burned, and soon there were rivers of flowing lead. Schnee was covered in an ocean of magma, and Raj was hit by so many meteors that all traces of Vulcan activity were erased completely. Plutus had not only destroyed the Vulcans, but all evidence of their very existence.

        It was finally only the microbes in Schnee's atmosphere that lived, who had no way of appreciating the beauty of Schnee's rings. Which was a pity, as they were very beautiful rings indeed.

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