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Journal: Well, crap... 8

Journal by mcgrew

Patty emailed me and solved the "why isn't anybody buying the Amazon ebook" question -- according to her, it's nearly impossible. She says they won't take a credit or debit card, you have to either have an Amazon gift card or that Amazon Prime crap.

So I don't know what to do. I'd just pull it and put it on the site for free like the other two books, but that would hardly be fair to the two people who jumped through Amazon's hoops.

Suggestions are very welcome.

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Journal: Stupid Tourist! 2

Journal by mcgrew

At an impasse with Voyage to Earth, I hacked out another short story today. Unfortunately, I wrote it in Open Office and slashdot refuses to preview properly; in preview it looks fine but when posted the smart quotes turn to garbage. So rather than pasting it here, I'll have to send you to somewhere less stupid.

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Journal: The Time Machine

Journal by mcgrew

I just added another title to my web site: H.G. Wells' The Time Machine. I hadn't realized that book was 8000 words short of being a novel.

It only took a day or so to fix up, but then it isn't a fat book like Huckleberry Finn, which has so many illustrations that I'm going to have to upgrade my space on the server (as if this hobby doesn't already cost too much). The Time Machine only has three pictures.

Speaking of Huck, like I mentioned, I hadn't read it in decades. I discovered on reading it that Sergy's kid did NOT, in fact, coin the word "Google". The word "Googling" is in chapter 29: "The duke he never let on he suspicioned what was up, but just went a goo-gooing around, happy and satisfied, like a jug that's googling out buttermilk; and as for the king, he just gazed and gazed down sorrowful on them new-comers like it give him the stomach-ache in his very heart to think there could be such frauds and rascals in the world."

Do you think that they'd have named it something else if they knew that "googling" had to do with lack of speed? I found it rather amusing.

You've probably noticed that the posted books I didn't wrire are referenced in the ones I did. I wish I could post Asimov's The End of Eternity.

I should get back to Mars Bars and Random Scribblings...

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Journal: A New Old Book

Journal by mcgrew

About six months or so ago I decided to take a break from writing and do some reading, so I pulled an Asimov collection from the shelf. After half a dozen or so stories, I thought I'd read something that wasn't science fiction. Huckleberry Finn was on my mind, and since my copy was somehow lost I decided to just read it on the web; I remembered it being a really good book, though I hadn't read it in decades.

All the online versions sucked;,, the .EDUs, it didn't matter. All had extraneous bullshit and looked thrown together carelessly.

So I thought I'd assemble one that didn't suck; one with borders, a book font, proper justification, all the illustrations by the original illustrator, and put there with thought rather than <p><img src="illustration.jpg"><p>.

I see why the rest looked hastily thrown together; it was a hell of a lot of work. I've been at it full time for a couple of weeks, and although I've posted it at my web site there are still a few bugs.

If you decide to read some Twain and see some bugs, please let me know.

The book isn't really about Huck. It was about Jim. It was an abolitionist book about the horrors of slavery, written before the Civil War.

Folks were sure different back then.

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Journal: SELinux and Web development

Journal by stoolpigeon

I use my Fedora desktop to work on development of all kinds. I love that with a Linux machine I can have a machine that matches my production environment very nicely and all the tools I want are there and work pretty well together.

I appreciate SELinux since it is there to keep me safe.

But sometimes - it is a frigging pain. I'm messing about with Yii, a PHP framework and I kept running into problems with permissions. At first I thought it was regular permissions but quickly realized that wasn't it and google pointed me to SELinux. Apache can't write to stuff in /var/www/html.

I did lots of reading. I found one way to fix it, though that way quit working after I had to log out to get a change to a group setting to go into effect. And I read a lot more and it was hard to understand it all, confusing and finally I setenforce=0 and got to work.

I realize that this is a bad habit and I shouldn't do it - but I just need to finish stuff. I'd like a nice way to manage this. Any of you may feel free to make that happen.

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Journal: Je Suis Charlie 15

Journal by WillAffleckUW

One of the funny (tragic?) things is that my son and I traveled to Paris and bought tons of bandes desinnees including ones by some of the cartoonists that were murdered by terrorists today.

I stand with them.

Your right to claim blasphemy ends when you set foot outside the mosque.

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Journal: I'm a trendlagger [LONG] 5

Journal by Bill Dog

When people complain about Facebook, for example, I have basically no idea what they're talking about, because I've never been on it. I avoided Myspace, and Linkedin, and whatever else. The good thing about being very late to jump on trends is that you can avoid some entirely. I'm glad I'm not on any of those services because I've heard (later on that) they're sleazy.


I still have a CRT (non-digital) television set. That's my only one. I still get non-digital, standard-def cable TV. I still record all my desired stuff on a VCR. The thing is, all that stuff still works, so I'm loathe to chuck it just because it's comically out of touch. Still, it's 2015 and the thought's crossed my mind, I might move it all to the bedroom and buy myself an HD screen for downstairs, and then figure out if a DVR is something you buy in a store or if it's something you can only rent via your cable co. or if it's something that's not a box in your home but a service you stream from you cable co.

At least then I wouldn't sound like an idiot talking with coworkers sometimes. Many of my adoptions of trends have been based on that. I was the last of my friends to get an answering machine. Remember those? I still have one. No not the tapes kind; I didn't jump on these until they were all non-mechanical by then. You might remember them associated with those old land line things, that we all used to have. Still have a land line. And still pay for long distance service, now that I think about it, and not sure why.

I was the last of my cohorts to get a cell phone, a small Nokia brickphone that everyone had (for a year or better) at the time. Then I was last to have that, and even though it worked fine, I spent $99 to move to a basic flipphone, only because everyone had those by then, and I was starting a new job, and didn't want to look like an idiot. What a reason to spend $100!

I plan on looking for a new job this spring, so just a few weeks ago I got my first ever smartphone. (Which one? Let's just say that I've now joined all the iDiots, I'm sorry to say.) The flipphone isn't broken, it's just unfashionable! So now I've gone from a $100 phone to a $650 one, and a little more than doubled my monthly service payment for it, just to learn about the smartphone world so I don't say something and reveal myself to be too far behind the times at a next job.

I got a netbook at the very end of that trend. But short-sightedly, I got one with Windows XP instead of Vista Home, for performance reasons, and now while it works just fine, I can't use it for anything serious because it's unsecured. And now that I have a smartphone, which boots to being able to check something on the web even faster, dunno what I'll use a perfectly good netbook for. It did get a fair amount of use for note-taking in classes (it's a Sammy 12" with a near-laptop-sized keyboard, which I needed to be able to touch type on it), so maybe I got my money's worth. (But how will I get my money's worth on the smartphone?)


I have been ahead of trends a couple of times in my life. In college I bought myself a Hayes 1200 baud modem (around $400 at the time; a *lot* for a ramen-eating [I miss those] starving college student back then) and was one of only a few at my college who did their homework on their home computer and then dialed in to upload it and, re-run it already developed and debugged on the school's system, and print it on the campus main printer. The only time I was in computer labs after my freshman year was to work (paid) in them. (Okay and for late-night study/party sesssions with my homies if I had been scheduled for some closing shifts and it was nearish the end of the semester.)

I also got the idea from a coworker at my first job back in the early 90's to fax one's resume to places. I know for a fact that that technique got me one of my jobs, as after I started there I found out the lady who placed the ad, with her company email address, promptly left, and no one was checking that account for resumes! But faxing resumes may not have ever gotten wildly popular, so what it was I was ahead of might not qualify as a trend I guess.


The good thing about not having gotten caught up in the social media trend is that I'm invisible on the interwebs. I use a robots meta tag with noindex/nofollow in my personal web space, that I only remove for the duration of looking for another job. I may be getting dinged in a job search by not being findable on social media, but at least then I can have *some* (controlled) web presence. Hopefully that's okay going forward.

I don't use my real name here, and have never revealed any personally identifiable info, such as things that would give away what city I live in or where I work. Since [goes and looks it up] 2004 the Slashdot journal system has enabled me to say what I really think (I mean politically; I'm a not necrophiliac or some other kind of societally-shunned weirdo besides being Conservative), without it possibly affecting hiring decisions. Just have to exercise a little care, and think before hitting Submit.

Actually I can be found, with some political/religious views exposed, in Usenet archives. At least in the programming forums on Usenet, back then, if you used a pseudonym you weren't taken seriously.

But it's near impossible to get that far in a web search, because, luckily, there's someone with my name and middle initial, in my region, who's a prolific writer. And later hits show someone who has their own business. So I got lucky in having a shadow for my name that seems to go on and on in the search results.

Who knows how exposed I am on Monster and Dice. They don't let you actually delete your account, just flag that you're not actively looking, as I recall. Some of my spam may be from any schlub with a few bucks creating a faux employer's account and trawling for victims. Same if I decide to try one or more dating sites this year. I'll have to really think hard about what I want to put out there (but to still make it hopefully worthwhile). Not that I think Monster and Dice and eHarmony and Match would sell me directly, like I've heard Facebook and Linkedin have, but that they'd not worry about being too careful about who they sell privileges to view my account to.

Beyond that Amazon knows tons about me. Probably Google as well, as I had to sign up for Google Groups once for a class, which tied my name to my IP address at the time. Probably browser fingerprinting, in my IP block, continues to identify me after my ISP issues me a new dynamic address. So I started using Bing last year, but I don't always remember to.


Being late to trends means, well, when I had hair on my head to really speak of, I was usually behind in hairstyles. In elementary school I just had a mop head of hair, but then in jr high I noticed everyone had moved to a center part. Who knows how long before that had happened. Then in high school a side part came in, so before I went off to college I figured I'd better finally lose my center parting.

Until last year when I said eff it and am now buzzing the top of my head, my side part had turned into a comb-over, without me noticing it, as my hair gradually thinned on top. So I had the side part for almost 30 years, completely skipping the moussed front sticking up thing. And of course then the Justin Bieber swirlie thing, although which I guess no one my age ever went to.

And I've skipped the goatee thing, retaining the moustache that my face started growing in 7th grade. So I've looked like a 70's porn star all this time (I would imagine!). No bit of fuzz growing under the bottom lip. Thought that may have been a short and/or non-widespread trend.

No tattoos or piercings. I think that makes me really behind the times. After watching a few seasons of Naked and Afraid, it's occurred to me that basically *everyone* now has a tattoo.

Clothing styles don't permeate my brain until they've been around long enough that they're just about to die off. I still wear polos to work. I still wear very light blue jeans and white tennis shoes on Fridays, even though I think that pristine look went out long ago. Everything's dark colors now. I'm so sick of black (especially in car interiors). I need to wear light, bright things half the time or it's depressing. And my dark colors load gets too big and the light colors cold load too small.

And finally another bad thing about being late to trends is, I hate pop songs when they first come out, and I don't give popular TV shows a chance. Their overwhelming popularity overwhelms me and makes me revulse. But then years later I get in to a show in re-runs, and then no one gets my references! Or I hear a song from a prior era, that's pathetically locked style-wise in that era, and it's stuck in my head and I hum it and people think I'm dangerous.

User Journal

Journal: Good Bye, Google. 6

Journal by mcgrew

For the last several years I've noticed Google's search results getting worse and worse as time went by. Ten years ago, typing the title of a work returned that work usually in the first spot. They now seem to completely ignore the "title" meta tags.

They've gradually reduced the number of things you could do to get to the document you're searching for. It used to be that if you searched for "no dog is a cat", all the search results would have that phrase in it, with documents having that as a title listed first. Now, searching for that phrase returns any page with any of those words. What damned good is that, if that exact phrase is what you're looking for? Apparently, Google now ignores quote marks.

I discovered this morning that that's not all it ignores now. Google has deteriorated to the point that the old Infoseek that Google took the search crown from was better.

It ignores not only quotes, but all punctuation and spaces. I searched for "Mars, Ho!" (including the quotes) and the first ten pages had results about people and things named "marsho". WHAT THE GOD DAMNED FUCK??? Why in the hell do the idiots think I put that comma, space, and exclamation point in for?

NASA has a "Mars, Ho!" page. Guess what? Google doesn't return it. At all. Google gives me millions of pages, none of which match my search criteria. I can almost see it not finding my insignifigant site, but a NASA page doesn't show up?

That's just pathetic.

What's even more pathetic is that its quality has deteriorated so much that Bing and Yahoo are now better at returning what you're actually searching for. Both NASA's "Mars, Ho!" page and mine are on the first page of both Bing and Yahoo's sites.

It was wrong of Firefox to just change peoples' default search, but I now see why they did it. They figured out before I did that Google jumped the shark quite a while ago and now is next to worthless.

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Journal: Fourteen: The Final Chapter 1

Journal by mcgrew

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).

Well, this one's starting out a little differently than previous ones. Is the whole damned internet down? It's Dec 17 right now and I was going to register the copyright for Mars, Ho! then work on his year's "Final Chapter". The copyright office is undergoing "emergency maintenance" and slashdot says "Slashdot is presently in offline mode. Only the front page and story pages linked from the front page are available in this mode. Please try again later" after Firefox warned me "It's a trap!"

As usual, first: the yearly index:

the Paxil Diaries

A Pleasant Vacation
A Pretty Good Friday
A Yank Back to the Past
Get off Wierd Al's Lawn!
The Coldest Night
Scientist says white is black
I'm dreaming of a secular Christmas

Mars, Ho!
Moroned Off Vesta
Time flies like an error
Watch your language, young man!
Some links go to Soylent, since they don't have slashdot's patented text mangler when you format something for a book and copy & paste to the journal.

Last years' stupid predictions:
100% accuracy!
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.
I'll retire and/or die. Nailed it! I retired at the end of February.

I'll just keep the same list this year, except that the "retire or die" one (shudder) and replace it with "I'll publish Random Scribblings". That prediction may be a bit iffy.

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

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Journal: Moving Streams in Kmix 4

Journal by stoolpigeon

I am in the office today. I'm pretty sure I'm the only person in the building. So today I'm doing something I almost never do - I'm listening to music via my speakers rather than using my headphones.
When I kicked off Amarok I went to switch the audio from the headphones to the speakers and realized I hadn't installed pavucontrol. I pulled it up in apper and saw that it was a gtk program. Not a big deal in itself. I have other gtk stuff already installed. But it just made me think - KDE must have a way to do this itself. That got me looking at Kmix but I couldn't find anything that would let me switch the audio from one device to another. So I installed pavucontrol, started listening to my musics and thought, this is a situation that should be fixed.
It seems like if this were going to happen in KDE it should happen with Kmix. So I looked up the project and got ready to email the maintainer. Then I thought, "There must be a place to put feature requests." I ended up at the KDE bug database and that is when I decided to search and see if this was already something in work. Searching the database was a little tricky - but I did end up seeing a bug report for kmix crashing when a stream was moved to a different device.
So I went back to Kmix. Right clicking on a stream brings up a menu that includes "Move" and there it was. I'm glad it already does what I want. I just wish it was easier to know. The Kmix handbook doesn't mention it and opening the Mixer it still works the same way - there's no menu that does the same thing without right clicking on a stream. I have this fear of a future where I just go right clicking all over the ui of everything I use, looking for stuff I need.
I love KDE and appreciate all the work that goes into it. Shoot - maybe this is a chance for me to contribute something. This is the kind of easy thing I could probably figure out. Anyway this is a note to myself for when I forget later. Plus it might help someone else.
On an unrelated note - when I hear Lorde's Royals - I can't help but hear the Weird Al version. He really nailed that one.

User Journal

Journal: Mars, Ho! is now available 2

Journal by mcgrew

It isn't supposed to be. I'll get to that later, but first, please download the Amazon e-book! It's only two bucks and I'd really like to see my name on a best seller list.

Speaking of names, the dufuses at Amazon insist on a first name. At least they left it lowercase.

As to its early release, I'm not sure what happened but I wanted to have perfect hard copies in my hand first, but I won't for another week. Not sure what happened, probably my own fault. If one of the covers is borked that's a $25 ISBN up in smoke. I can only hope.

As always, PDF and HTML is free. I'm only charging for the ebook because Amazon insists, and maybe it will get more exposure. I write these things to be read, after all, not for money. Good thing, too...

The free files and links to sales are here.

If you're thinking "hey, I already read that book, right here," well, no, you didn't. What's posted here is 2/3rds as long, and much of that was removed. If you can't afford two bucks, well, you can still read it for free.

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Journal: Fedora 21 Virtual Box Guest Additions and the Debug Kernel 1

Journal by stoolpigeon

I run a Vbox instance of Fedora on my mac. It was Fedora 20 but I used Fedup to upgrade it to Fedora 21.
When I did that and updated everything I ran into a problem where guest additions wasn't working. And I don't know about other situations but in this one when Guest Additions isn't working then the VM is pretty much unusable. So I was digging around trying to figure it out. The install would run and complain about not being able to find the kernel headers but they were installed. Along with all other necessary packages.
I found a note where someone realized that using a debug kernel was there issue. I'd seen that listed as a kernel option when I'd booted - I'd never noticed it before but I didn't really think about it. So when I rebooted I just chose the kernel that didn't list -debug and then everything worked. I'm not sure just what's going on and I need to look into getting it so that the right kernel is automatically chosen every time, rather than my having to manually choose it. But at least it works now.

"We shall reach greater and greater platitudes of achievement." -- Richard J. Daley