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Journal: Mathtah, it'th ALIVE! 1

Journal by Engineer-Poet

I finally got around to backing up 38 GB of data (as a precaution, and a long-overdue protective measure) and loaded the latest Mandriva Free.

Pluses:

  • It got the ethernet port working again (no idea how I screwed up the old config).
  • I didn't have to use the backup.
  • It didn't mess with /etc/hosts, so all my ad-site blocks still work.
  • My passwords and everything are just fine - I can be myself on /. again!

Minuses:

  • It no longer mounts USB devices under /mnt, df doesn't show them, and I haven't yet found where it puts them.

But in the mean time, just about everyone else seems to have drifted off. Where is everyone? Multiply?

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Journal: Funny things from the road

Journal by Engineer-Poet

Driving the roads, you see the darnedest things.

I'll say it straight out: I don't like SUV's, or the sort of person who "needs" one to make a statement. I think they are overly hard to see around/past, their bumpers are too high for the safety of others, and the level of rollover fatalities ought to require a special license certification to drive one. When someone has added a bunch of unsafe features which guzzle even MORE fuel for the sake of "looking cool", that person has lost all claim on sympathy in my eyes.

Is it wrong to experience schadenfreude when such a bozo's stupidity comes back to bite him?

Leaving Santa Clara for Yosemite, I was cruising east on the 205 when I witnessed a bozo's moment of grief. Bozo was driving an Explorer with an obviously aftermarket paint job and oversize tires (gas wasters, and some of them are damned noisy too). But it was obviously too much effort for him to pay attention to where he was going, because as I and my travelling companion watched, he drifted his right front corner ever so slowly into the wheels of a semi-trailer in the right lane.

Debris scattered. He swung briefly left, right into the semi again, and then got away from it... too late. His tire had been at least knocked off the rim, if not shredded. He was rolling to a stop on his rim on the right shoulder as I went by. I suspect that he took a pretty good whack to the fender and corner fascia as well.

Bozo's trouble was entirely his own creation. I could see that his head was down, not keeping his eyes on the road. I feel for the poor semi driver who had to stop, but Bozo... am I wrong to wish him high enough insurance rates to force him to drive a Saturn or Corolla instead? Especially since he obviously doesn't have the smarts to drive safely?

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Journal: Editting image metadata in Linux 2

Journal by Engineer-Poet

I've got a problem and I hope you folks can help.

I came back from my little trip with about 1300 images from two different photographers (and several dozen AVI's, which aren't at issue here). The images are all JPEG.

The Windows image/FAX viewer software provides for rather comprehensive addition of metadata to JPEG files, or appears to. There are a number of fields to which one can add data about the image, creator, and such. This is such a great thing, I had planned to annotate every image in order to make the set more useful later.

These plans ran into a brick wall when I got the files copied to my desktop (Mandriva One) PC. The Gimp doesn't seem to admit that JPEG metadata exists. ImageMagick does claim a means of adding comments to images (and it's scriptable, which is a great thing) but I cannot for the life of me figure out how to print those comments or load from/save to a file. It's as if they are write-only.

Questions for the bunch:

  1. Do the Windows tools actually put metadata in the JPEG files, or is it a non-standard extension held in other files?
  2. If it's in the JPEG itself, what Linux tools should I be looking for to read and edit it conveniently?
User Journal

Journal: Things are changing

Journal by Engineer-Poet

My car MP3 player died halfway through the California trip. This left me with radio for my entertainment.

Passing through a radio market roughly once an hour means you cover a LOT of different milieus. One station I heard in the heartland somewhere was doing one of the things radio stations do: running a contest to try to drum up listenership.

The prize in this contest was a car. Time was when such a car would be a Corvette or Camaro or Mustang, but not any more.

These gas-guzzlers have apparently become passé. This giveaway sported a hybrid Toyota Camry.

Why not a Prius? Perhaps because Toyota can get list price for every Prius they can build!

If this is what's going on in the band across southern Illinois through Kentucky, it's a very encouraging trend.

User Journal

Journal: Home (such as it is) again

Journal by Engineer-Poet

I have returned to home, or at least the job site.

Ms. Fuzzbutt made it through just fine. She was actually happy to see me.

My neighbor (who made sure that things would be that way) isn't doing so well, and I'm doing what I can to help.

I have many hundreds of pictures (roughly 1300 between two photographers, plus several dozen short videos) and need to start sorting, renaming and adding metadata to them. (I got pics of the Moon and Venus within about a degree of each other, just setting over some rocks outside Bryce Canyon. My new camera has its annoying attributes, but sometimes it rocks.)

The Clean Tech conference reportage still isn't entirely written up. I still have my notes from Thursday afternoon to put into some kind of intelligible order. I also have quite a few hours of unpacking to do; meanwhile, the remnants of a tropical storm drizzle down upon the scene.

Back to work tomorrow. Wish me luck in re-adjusting.

User Journal

Journal: At least it goes both ways

Journal by Engineer-Poet

I went riding yesterday in the 90 degree heat and spent almost 2 hours pedalling. This morning I was down 3.2 pounds from Monday by the scale. It was a bit extreme pushing into the wind (I stopped a couple of times to check my map, guzzle water and just rest) but I think I did okay.

I always try to head out to windward so I'll have a tailwind home. This time the wind was out of the southwest, so I went to see different territory than I have before. It has a certain sameness, but there are also different things to see everywhere. One thing that strikes me is how much forested area there is. If people abandoned this land, it would be in scrub timber in a decade at most. There are empty houses which do not look to have been that way long, and trees grow right up to them. There are also ruins showing signs of careful gutting followed by fire.

I tested the "HALT!" spray on a yappy lapdog that chased me. Stopped it dead in its tracks. I'll have to see if it does the same on ones which are big enough to be dangerous.

The forecast is for rain through tomorrow, so I may not get another ride in before the weekend. I'm looking forward to it, though.

I gave my spare water-saver shower head to my neighbor. I'm becoming the local energy evangelist.

User Journal

Journal: Oh, fudge 1

Journal by Engineer-Poet

I got on the scale this morning and found that I'd fallen back. WAY back. I don't know if it was the pasta or the one lapse with fries for lunch (salt), but pretty much all my progress was lost.

I guess it was all water. I'm going to have to work much harder (and watch my diet very closely) to make real strides.

User Journal

Journal: Now if I can only keep this up...

Journal by Engineer-Poet

Got in another good ride yesterday. Had to cut it a bit shorter than I wanted due to a wind shift (I don't like coming home with a headwind if I'm trying to beat the sinking Sun) but saw some territory I'd never been past before.

Every time I do this, I am down a couple pounds on the scale the next morning. Roughly a pound seems to stay off for several days, and the effect is at least somewhat cumulative. If I can keep doing this for the summer, I'll be downright svelte.

User Journal

Journal: What a surprise!

Journal by Engineer-Poet

After an 8-day hiatus, I got out on my bicycle again today. I didn't quite hit my intended turn-around point (I got started late, and turned around to make sure I didn't run out of daylight) but all in all I got in a very good workout. I give myself extra points for the sprint near the end to catch a line of traffic and get through a major intersection before the light turned.

One funny thing: someone coming the other way actually started to pass, saw me, and pulled back in. I gave them a friendly wave as they went by. Maybe the locals just take a while to get used to seeing bicycles on the road?

User Journal

Journal: Cameras 3

Journal by Engineer-Poet

I looked at cameras at the local store and was taken by two: the Fujifilm S5200 (on clearance at $255) and the Canon Powershot S3 IS at $350.

After checking the specs on-line, I think I am going for the Canon. The Fujifilm may have slightly better color rendition and a faster sensor (ISO 1600 to the Canon's 800), but the Canon has a better optical zoom, image stabilization, stereo microphones, USB 2.0 interface and it's more compact. The 5.2 vs. 6.1 megapixel is close to a wash.

I have seen the Canon priced on-line at about $300. Any better suggestions?

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Journal: Tweaking the system 4

Journal by Engineer-Poet

(possibly identifiable data within - persistence not guaranteed)

I work for a division of a massive company with some truly moronic policies. One of these policies relates to labelling. Drawers, shelves and equipment are supposed to be labelled, outlines of equipment put on surfaces so they can be located "properly", etc.

This makes a certain amount of sense on a production line. It's sheer lunacy to impose it on engineering workstations, but the policy implementation is one-size-fits-all. Worst, compliance is part of employee evaluations.

(I understand that I do not have to wish death upon the originator of this policy, because he's dead. At this point this atheist is hoping that providence created an afterlife and a Hell just so that he could get what he deserves.)

My move to new office space created an opportunity for snarky labelling. Our office does a certain amount of ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) work, and some areas and items are labelled ITAR. Accordingly, I labelled my bookshelves and drawers with the following:

ITAR
UTAR
WETAR
LaBreaTAR
TARNATION
REINTARNATION
ISHTAR
TARBABY
TARFU

Let them put that in their pipe and smoke it.

User Journal

Journal: California, here I come... again. 5

Journal by Engineer-Poet

Out of the blue, a friend from the ether presented me with a question: since it was 30 hours round-trip flight plus other things if he went (presumably from Australia), how would I like to attend the CleanTech 2007 conference as a member of the press?

I got my press pass last night. I have a few more arrangements to make (and a laptop to acquire), but right now it's ON! I'll be live-blogging it for The Oil Drum and The Alternate Energy Blog. ... oh, and I'll need a digital camera! (My old 35mm died last month.) Anyone got any suggestions? I'm drawn to the ones which look more like SLR's (big lenses), but I'm not sure these are really any better than the ones which retract their optics into clean rectangular packages. What do you have, and what makes you like it?

User Journal

Journal: It's Bacchanalia out there

Journal by Engineer-Poet

You may think of rednecks as straightlaced, but the stuff that goes on in "sleepy" towns can surprise you. This corner of Podunk has been swamped by a wave of libertinism. Everywhere it's sex, sex, sex, day and night! These libertines think nothing of doing their thing in public. They behave like pigs, too. Clean up after themselves? Hah! They leave remnants of their orgies everywhere. A little rain is just enough to wash it all into pools with a disgusting film on top.

Damn pine trees. They ought to behave discreetly and keep their pollen between themselves.

User Journal

Journal: The #$&*!ers are trying to kill me 4

Journal by Engineer-Poet

Nothing drives home the realization that you're living in Podunk more than encounters with rednecks.

Especially when they are encounters which could easily be fatal.

I broke a bit early from work on Tuesday to get in some mileage on my bike while I still had daylight. I had no real difficulty with traffic going my way, but on the last leg back into town I was run off the road by opposite-direction traffic coming into my lane (head on) to pass.

Not once, but twice in the space of a few minutes.

This constitutes reckless disregard for life and safety. I am going to consult the police about the legality of carrying small balloons of paint to mark the cars of such dangerous drivers, plus whatever's necessary to deal with the ones who decide to escalate.

No, I have no intention of leaving the roads. I can see these idiots coming, but I can't stand most other forms of exercise and giving it up is a road to ruin.

COBOL is for morons. -- E.W. Dijkstra

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