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Journal Journal: Thoughts on 007 - Spectre 2

No spoilers, just some quick comments.

It isn't bad, but it isn't great, either. Good enough is where I'd put it. Of the Daniel Craig Bond moves, I'd rank this one as #4 (of 4).

A couple of things that stick out at me were the early car chase scene. WTF people? Who wrote this? It wasn't so much a car chase as "lets watch expensive cars tool around Rome". No shooting, nothing exciting. Just what looked like an orange Lamborghini chasing whatever custom car Bond was driving. (Okay, it was a custom Jaguar C-X75 chasing a custom Aston-Martin DB10.)

See, Bond was driving a bullet-proof, armored car. WTF was he fleeing from? The bad guy couldn't get to him. He could've come to a complete stop, let the guy roll up, wave, and ask him to do his window and it wouldn't have mattered.

The second scene that bothered me was the train fight scene. Holy fuck! Are there no other people on the train? The bash their way through like 4 or 5 cars on a 7 car train and there aren't people scrambling to get out of the way. No staff, no passengers, nothing. It was like a ghost train. Then they get off at the next stop looking freshly showered and pressed, not like both protagonists just got their asses kicked and should be covered in bruises and welts and walking with severe limps.

The final scene that irked me was where Bond was chasing the cars in Austria with the plane. The plane loses its wings and a strut, then slides down the mountain only to bash through a barn and smash into one of the bad guys cars. And NO ONE IS OUTSIDE TO SEE IT! It is like they found the only Austrian ski resort village that IS TOTALLY DEVOID OF PEOPLE.

I guess they smashed up so many cars they had to save money somewhere, and skimped on the extras (except for the opening scene in Mexico City).

A little long, and a little disjoint. It really helped that I was at an Alamo Draft House and ordered a couple of beers while watching it.

All in all it really reminded me of a Roger Moore Bond as opposed to a Daniel Craig Bond. Not Moonraker bad, but still...

User Journal

Journal Journal: Ubuntu 15.10 Miscellaneous

A couple of other notes on Ubuntu 15.10 on my hacked-up HP ProBoox 6475b.

1. The fingerprint sensor is a Validity VFS491, 138a:003d. Validity Sensors was bought by Synaptec back in 2013, but regardless those sensors have never been well supported under Linux. I did get this one working by digging out the old driver patch that HP supplied for SuSE Linux 11 back in 2012. I applied that to libfprint-0.0.6 and compiled everything from source. Ugly, but it works. I forwarded the patch over to the fingerprint-gui guys to see if they are interested in adding it in. Every little bit helps.

2. Playing with my Yubikey Neo I found that the pam-u2f package in the PPA (v1.0.2) segfaults on the pamu2fcfg command. I filed a bug report, provided debug and core data, and the developers patched the git HEAD source in a few hours. I rebuilt the utility and supporting libraries from scratch to test and all is working! Score one for open source software! Expect it to be released on the PPA next week.

That was really the last little nit. Everything went much smoother than I expected, and I'm quite happy with the setup. Every last feature on the machine works without a hiccup -- except the WiFI scanner, but that isn't part of the machine.

I'm actually fairly impressed with the open source AMD video drivers (Radeon 7660G, which comes with the A-10 processor), but don't play games on the machine other than WarZone 2100 so I don't really stress it.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Ubuntu 15.10 and Epson / Seiko Scanner Driver

I've tried everything, but can't connect to the scanner over WiFi. I can connect over USB, but the scanner is on the other side of the room and that defeats the purpose of the WiFi.

I have installed Epson's iscan, iscan-data and iscan-network-nt packages -- the latter being the one supposed to allow Epkowa devices connect over the network. Yes, I modified the epkowa.conf file in /etc/sane.d/ using both IP address and DNS name, but to no avail.

The printer works, the scanning port (1865) is active, but no joy on using simplescan, xsane, or iscan. Drat!

User Journal

Journal Journal: Ubuntu 15.10 and Epson / Seiko Printer Driver

Ubuntu 15.10 automatically found my Epson XP-610 wireless printer / scanner and tried to install the proper printer driver, but failed miserably.

By "miserably" I mean it got stuck halfway through installing the package file and gummed up their software installation utility. I had to "kill -9" the appropriate, defunct dpkg instance. A reboot will do it as well.

The problem seems to be the proprietary Epson driver relies on LSB (Linux Standard Base), which is no longer installed by default in Ubuntu. The fix is to download the appropriate .deb package from the Epson site. Install the driver with sudo dpkg -i epson-inkjet-printer-201308w_1.0.0-1lsb3.2_amd64.deb, which will install but not configure because of missing LSB as a dependency. Finally, do a sudo apt-get install -f to handle the missing dependencies and you can go into the Printers app and add the printer, as the drivers will now be available.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Brother P-Touch QL-500 on Linux 1

Just a quick entry because I couldn't find a fix for this issue anywhere online.

Under Linux, using Ubuntu 15.04 and 15.10, my USB-connected Brother QL-500 label printer is detected automatically and available out-of-the-box, no driver install necessary. Very nice.

I tried printing under Glabels and all I got was a flashing LED on the printer. The Brother website has a similar error under Windows, claiming this is caused by a mismatch between the label actually loaded in the printer and the setting in the driver. This was not the issue. I have DK-1201 address labels loaded, and the driver is set to 29 x 90 mm, which is also the template I'm using in Glabels.

In the driver (Printers app, Properties, Printer Options), there is a button labeled "Label Preamble". This is on by default and is the culprit. Un-check that box and the printer should now print properly.

User Journal

Journal Journal: An Lá 1

Solas agus Ãilleacht duit, a mhuirnÃn, an là seo agus gach lÃ, cibé a bhfuil tÃ.

User Journal

Journal Journal: CuBox Wifi Streaming Solved

I believe I have mentioned before that every bit of media I purchase I digitize and store the files on a central server. That includes over 300 movies and over 100 television episodes, plush a few hundred audio tracks. Everything is available anywhere in my home via wireless streaming, however I had been having problems with reliably streaming 1080p HD video over WiFi to my main television units.

My back end device is simply a Buffalo AirStation AC 1750 running DD-WRT build 27456. It is configured for WiFi AC-only in the 5.8 GHz band, and G/N/AC in the 2.4 GHz band to accommodate some older devices.

A Western Digital My Passport Ultra 2 Tb USB 3.0 drive is plugged into the back of the wireless router, which acts as a NAS and makes media available via SAMBA shares.

Over all I like this set-up, though after several months of use I can't really recommend the Buffalo AirStation for the simple reason that it doesn't have any external antennas. It really suffers in coverage area because of this. DD-WRT is great, as is the little 2 Tb WD drive, but I'll never again get a wireless gizmo that doesn't use an external antenna.

The front end to my televisions scattered throughout the house is a CuBox i4-Pro running OpenELEC. This is a fantastic combination that has been almost -- but not quite -- perfect for me. It is also easy to use for my non-technical wife and future geek 7-year old child.

The one issue has been reliably streaming 1080p HD videos to a CuBox. Even with the unit less than 10 meters away from the access point, with no obstructions, it would routinely have such a poor connection as to not be able to keep up with the playback. Watching the dashboard of DD-WRT showed me it had less than 30% signal strength and constantly would drop to 5.5 Mbps connection rates.

To eliminate interference I got up in the middle of the night and shut off everything that used wifi except the CuBox and it still performed poorly.

The short answer is the built-in wireless on the CuBox is abysmal. Again, no external antenna and 2.4 GHz only. Further investigation showed it would not work with channel bonding, thus not use 40 MHz channels in 802.11n. I don't know if it is a chipset limitation or a driver issue. Either way, it sucks.

My answer was to buy a USB wifi adapter with an external antenna. This one is tiny, totally plug-and-play, and absolutely does the trick. And for $12.99, including Prime shipping, a bargain. It is marketed towards the Raspberry Pi, which is what I bought it for. It uses the Realtek RT5370 chipset and is supported at the kernel level (no extra drivers needed) in Android, OpenELEC, Raspbian and lots of other Linux flavors.

It support 802.11n and bonded, 40 MHz channels and, more importantly, handles HD streams without breaking a sweat. I just ordered 2 more to outfit my 2 other CuBox devices so I can stream everything to the TVs in bedrooms without running wires.

(Note: I'm in a fairly low-population subdivision and not a lot of 2.4 GHz wireless around. I'm not stepping on any of my neighbors with my signal.)

User Journal

Journal Journal: Magnetic Cell Phone Docks 6

Just a short note. I picked up an Air Dock back when their Indigogo campaign was under way. I have now had this thing for a little over a year.

In general it works fine and does exactly what it says. I use the CD-mount, which has a nice picture down on this page.

The one flaw with that mount is the bolt and nut used to tighten it are fairly large, and extend beneath the mount. On DIN I sized radios, with the CD slot on top of the unit, the nut blocks the view of the display.

The one other thing I have discovered is that after a year of use, it has magnetized my phone! The Nexus 5 comes with small metal plates built in to the back to allow for the native use of devices like this. After all this time they have become magnetized, and that totally screws up the internal compass.

Now any time I start the compass app it complains the magnetic field strength is way too strong and it doesn't give accurate readings.

To be clear, this happens when the device is undocked and I'm walking around.

My next dock will be non-magnetic, as I do sometimes use the compass.

User Journal

Journal Journal: nettin_pure: Gone?

nettin_pure seems to have stopped updating his journal. Sad; it was a constant in a changing Slashdot. It will be missed.

In any case: Happy birthday, nettin_pure. I hope the day has been a very good one. LÃ breithe sona duit!
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Journal Journal: [Beloved] It Is Not a Word 2

It is not a word spoken,
Few words are said;
Nor even a look of the eyes
Nor a bend of the head,

But only a hush of the heart
That has too much to keep,
Only memories waking
That sleep so light a sleep.

-- Sara Teasdale

I remember.
User Journal

Journal Journal: These are the things in my head at night 7

Then-PFC, now-SGT Bergdahl may in fact have deserted his post. There are certainly credible accusations to that effect, and if so, then he should be tried and convicted for the crime. But it's a whole lot easier to investigate those charges with him here, and we don't let the Taliban mete out justice for us.

The military idea of "taking care of your own" has a lot of different aspects. Holding the line and leaving no one behind are obvious; less obvious, perhaps, is that our people are ours. Loon or no, deserter or no, even traitor or no, whatever else Bowe Bergdahl may be he is someone who raised his right hand and took the oath, and that means that whatever reward or punishment he receives is ours and ours alone to give.

It astonishes me sometimes, having at this point been out of the service several more years than I was in it, how strong and pure those ideas still are in my head: how much "us" the profession of arms still is to me, and I suppose always will be. I'm a civilian and happy to be one now, but both the infantryman and the medic are still very close to the surface. The latter is concerned mainly with bringing back the wounded--and the former is ready, willing, and perhaps even eager to kill anyone who stands in the way of that mission.

Whatever else we did, whatever else we may do, we had to bring him home.

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Journal Journal: Lies, damned lies, and ... oh no, you're going there. 1

[cranky rant warning]

"Lies, damned lies, and statistics." It's coming up again with depressing frequency, being used as an argument instead of a snide observation.

Okay, here's the thing. Can you lie with statistics? Sure. Statistics is a branch of mathematics*, and math is a language; you can lie in that language as easily as in any other. Does this mean all statistics are lies? No more than all statements in any language are lies--and if you believe that, you've gone so far down the rabbit hole of anti-intellectual mysticism that you'll probably never find your way out.

Meanwhile, in the real world, and in the ever-expanding torrent of data we have about that world, statistics as a discipline is pretty much the only hope we have of understanding anything. The low-hanging fruit has been picked. The equations we learn in Physics 101 are as valid as they ever were, but they're not nearly enough. No matter how certain you think you are, no matter how many times you repeat your experiment and get the same result, if you don't do the statistical tests you don't actually know whatever it is you think you know. And if you do the tests--well, you may still be wrong, but you can at least quantify your uncertainty. And you have to do that, because you can always be wrong.

None of this is meant to defend the misuse of statistics, any more than as a writer I'd defend the misuse of natural language. People can and do wilfully misinterpret statistics, or cherry-pick them, or just outright make them up, and those are bad things. Guess what? They do that with every other kind of statement too. At least half of statisticians' job is fact-checking, and it's a charge we gladly accept.

So the next time you're tempted to say "lies, damned lies, and statistics," or "figures don't lie but liars figure," or "correlation does not imply causation" or any of its variants, or post the umpteen-thousandth link to "How To Lie With Statistics," and think you're being clever--please, just stop. Because one thing I am so sure of that I don't even need to put a p-value on it is that if you feel the need to resort to any of those lazy, thought-free responses, you don't know enough about the issue at hand to have an informed opinion, and the best thing you can possibly do for yourself and everyone else is to keep quiet.

*Opinions vary on this issue, but if statistics isn't exactly a branch of mathematics, we can at least say that math is the language in which it's written.

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Journal Journal: Dude, where's my comments? 4

Posted a few comments on this Ask Slashdot article yesterday. Come back, and they've disappeared. They've not been deleted - I can still access them, from the recent comments area of my profile - and they've not been downmodded either. Not a Beta issue, as I'm not currently on it.


"Sometimes insanity is the only alternative" -- button at a Science Fiction convention.