All of the blog entries in reverse chronological order. It may take a while to load, please be patient. You can see an list of all blog entry titles on the ../Archives page.

Spack Is Dead, Long Live Spack!

Due to the slowly decreasing public use of spack.org/wiki and the steadily increasing amount of spam, I've finally taken the step of locking down the wiki.

Unless you have created an account, and it is listed as authorised on SpackGroup, you will be unable to make any changes. I'm sad to see it finally come to this but I was spending 95% of my time on this site cleaning up spam and it simply wasn't worth it anymore. :-(

Abort. Retry. Error.

Try http://adam.shand.net/

Another Test

Just trying to get the RSS stuff working again.

Upgraded Moin

Getting with the times, I've just upgraded to MoinMoin 1.5.2. I've also decided to start using the DebianLinux package of Moin rather then always doing a manual install.

It seems that Debian is now more up to date then I am. We'll see how that works out.

I'm hoping to have a chance to do some work around here (online gardening as it were) over the next few weeks. We'll see how that works out as well.

Random

  • "in many cases the reasons a tradition originated is less important then the meaning it has grown into over time."
  • "the wellington mafia was not particularly feared."
  • "answering to someone can be the worst thing imaginable (but sometimes not)."

How to Immigrate to New Zealand

I've had several conversations with friends, and friends of friends, about immigrating to NewZealand. Each conversation conveyed different information with different levels of helpfulness based on how much time I had available at that moment.

Given that it didn't seem that I was going to be asked any less over the next year I figured I'd just write down everything I could think of in an attempt to make a "comprehensive what Adam knows" document. So, for those that might be interested I present my guide to ImmigratingToNewZealand. Thanks to everyone that helped write it, I hope it's useful.

Google Ads

So the time has come to give Google Ads a shot. The primary motivation is to try and defray the hosting costs of spack.org (since it's struggling a little bit to survive it's quarterly PledgeDrive).

We'll see how it goes, if nothing else it's interesting to see what ads Google selects for each page.

Personal Telco Gets US$15,000 Grant

AaronBaer writes: "The PersonalTelco Project is having a media blitz this week. The news of our ~$15,000 dollar grant from Meyer Memorial Trust has been followed up by quite a few articles in the Portland Area media. Pick up today’s (April 7th, 2005) Oregonian and in the inPortland section we’re the featured cover story."

Way to go guys, congratulations!

I Am The ...

Photographic Overhaul

I've been resisting going through all of our pictures and cleaning them up because after iPhoto 2 and 4 screwed me, I've tried so many different photo management techniques and software packages that it had all become a bit of a mess.

Finally Teresa let me know that the current state of our photographs was "unacceptable" and that I'd better do something about it (she actually wasn't nearly that nice about it :-) ). So with much bitching and dread I've spent the best part of the last two weeks albumizing, recovering, deleting, reordering, commenting and generally dealing with ... the digital collection of the last five years of our life.

With all that said and done, I would like to present ya'll with the new and improved online photo album:

On a technical note I have these things to say:

  • Manually organizing photo's in directories (date or album based) is time consuming and not as flexible as I'd like (eg. what is the tidy solution for wanting to have a picture in two different albums?).
  • All of the various software packages I tried were broken or annoying in enough different ways that I gave up on them.
  • iPhoto5 is *finally* "good enough", which isn't to say that it it's perfect. It's always been less annoying then any of the other solutions and now it's finally fast enough that I don't try and take my own life each time I use it for more then 15 minutes.
  • Anyone who thought that digital photographs would make people's lives *easier* was a moron.

Worldly Possessions

I'm not particularly possession oriented. I don't think I ever have been particularly, but over the last few years I've actively worked to train myself out of becoming emotionally attached to "stuff". Tonight that was tested.

The only thing I've hung on to is my books, specifically my comic books and graphic novels. I've had a tremendous amount of fun tracking down specific versions, scouring second hand shops, trading with friends and generally being a collector. I haven't invested much time over the last few years, but collectively they represent a hobby that has sporadically spanned the last 15 years of my life.

Tonight the upstairs balcony filled up with rain which caused water to come cascading down the inside of our wall and into the built-in bookcase in the study. Almost everything in the bookcase was fine, the exception was the bottom shelf which held all of my graphic novels.

It wasn't that much water, but it was enough that the comics could wick the water halfway up their pages which means they're basically pooched. Teresa was very sweet, she immediately bust out the hair dryer and started painstakingly drying the pages one by one but it didn't take too long to realize it was going to take forever (and I've been down that route in the past and it doesn't have a happy ending no matter how much time and care you spend).

Once we'd been through everything and I started seeing what was irreparably damaged I made a discovery. A bunch of them I don't actually care about. A bunch more I care about but are easily replaced. So there are really only a handful of them that I care about individually and are hard to replace.

It's interesting that it was the collection that I cared about rather then the stuff itself.

Anyway philosophic analysis aside ... it sucks and I'm pissed. :-P

More Anti-Spam Stuff

Lots of people have sent their condolences about the wiki spam, thanks. :-) I've been doing some research and fortunately there are a few options available:

  • Make the wiki only writable by people who have logged in. I did this initially as I figured out what my options were, but I had no intention of leaving it that way. If that really becomes my only option to keep the spam under control, then I might just ditch the wiki and move to a blog and see how that goes (bring on comment spam ... <sigh>).

  • DarrinEden told me about a program written by Richard Parker called WikiMinion. WikiMinion is a script which monitors the changes which occur on your wiki and if it thinks they are spam it automatically reverts it. Cool idea and I may end up resorting to it, but I'll use it as a last resort.

  • Moin has a black list for IP address and host names which are repeat offenders. I'm not a big fan of black lists (see SpamBlacklistsConsideredHarmful) but at least it's a method of control.

  • The primary method I've chosen uses one of the new features in MoinMoin 1.3, what they call their AntiSpamGlobalSolution. It's a grandiose claim but seems to be the best, and most wiki'ish, option available. It works by making the wiki periodically mirror the remote BadContent page into a local BadContent page. Then anytime someone tries to save a page which contains one of the patterns listed it gives them an error saying that it won't save the page because it contains such and such a pattern.

After all of this hopefully we are back with true wiki style functionality (three cheers for SoftSecurity) while still being protected from the majority of the spammers. Big thanks to the MoinMoin crew for all the work which made, and keeps, this wiki possible.

Well see how well it actually works.

Wiki Spam: Shine Our Corner of the Wiki

Somehow spack.org/wiki has avoided en masse wiki spam up to this point, but last night 50'ish of our most popular pages were overwritten with wiki spam. Having just spent 30 minutes of my life recovering from their page rank fueled greed, I figure it's time to face the problem.

With that in mind, here's what will be happening:

  • For the time being I've locked down the wiki so that only people who have logged in have the ability to create or edit pages. This sucks, but should limit the damage until I get a real solution in place. :-(

  • I believe this new version of MoinMoin has some anti-spam features, including collaborative blacklist features. I'll be investigating those to see if they are worth using.

  • If you are logged into the wiki and can view the SpackGroup page you have the permission to revert wiki pages. To revert a wiki page:

    • Go to the vandalized page.
    • Click the "Get Info" link in the right hand side bar.
    • On the info page you will see a list of every version of the page (newest versions at the top, oldest at the bottom).
    • Use the "view" links to go back through the versions and find the most recent, non-spam version of the page.
    • Once you are happy that you've found the correct version of the page, click "revert".
    • View the page as normal to make sure your changes have taken effect as expected.

MoinMoin 1.3.3

After the first aborted attempt it went pretty easily, and what you are currently seeing is the brand-spanking new Moin 1.3.3.

It's quite nice and I'm pleased with where I've ended up but there are still a few bugs (both cosmetic and functional) which I will be cleaning up as I have a chance.

Well that Sucked (aka. Late Night Upgrade to MoinMoin 1.3.3)

Okay, well apologies for the recent outage of the spack.org wiki. Hopefully it wasn't too suckful for anyone. I decided two nights ago that upgrading to a newer version of MoinMoin would be a good idea as lots of cool stuff is going on with the new releases.

To make a really long story short it turned out that the migration was a bit more involved then I'd expected (can you say nine different migration scripts which have to be run in order?). Combined with a couple of beers, staying up late and an inopportune "rm -r" you end up with a lot of wasted time and recovering from backups.

So in the end we're back at the beginning. The main difference is that now I have the appropriate respect for this upgrade and will be proceeding with all due caution.

Hopefully you'll see an brand spanky new version here soon.

The Emptiness Of My Mind

It has been commented upon that my blog, and thus my mind, has been empty recently. Actually this isn't true, in fact the opposite is true. While silence on the blog front has prevailed many things have been unfolding in meat space:

  • We climbed aboard a monstrous flying vehicle for 20ish hours in-air torture. After the cursing had subsided we realized we were in Alaska. We stayed in the cold, dark north for several weeks, after which we performed a whirlwind tour of eating and sleeping establishments in Seattle and PortlandOregon.

  • We met with a mortgage broker and will soon (hopefully!) have oodles of cash with which to purchase the house of our dreams. Or more accurately to purchase the house which we can actually afford but we hope will one day lead us to the house of our dreams.
  • We've been rampant social whores. Out and about at every excuse to the point of mental and physical exhaustion at the end of each week.
  • Teresa has been wooed by WetaDigital and will be starting work there next monday.

  • We have purchased a kitten, however it's one of those fancy-schmanzy pure bred things and we don't actually take possession of the kitty for another month. He is cute though (pictures withheld due to fear of reciprocity).
  • To keep the aforementioned kitty company we shall be hovering like ghouls over the pet stores searching for the perfect pink nosed furry monster with which to keep the fancy one company.
  • I purchased a mountain bike and have been peddling my squishy belly to and from work most days. Thus far the peddling has failed to make any impression on the belly, I fear diets are looming in it's future.

The Religious Left

As a comment to his "Let them Eat Myth" posting, DouglessRushkoff contributes a letter from rabbi MichaelLerner about the need for the Democrats to foster a "religous left":

  • For years the Democrats have been telling themselves "it's the economy, stupid." Yet consistently for dozens of years millions of middle income Americans have voted against their economic interests to support Republicans who have tapped a deeper set of needs. Tens of millions of Americans feel betrayed by a society that seems to place materialism and selfishness above moral values. They know that "looking out for number one" has become the common sense of our society, but they want a life that is about something more-a framework of meaning and purpose to their lives that would transcend the grasping and narcissism that surrounds them. Sure, they will admit that they have material needs, and that they worry about adequate health care, stability in employment, and enough money to give their kids a college education. But even more deeply they want their lives to have meaning-and they respond to candidates who seem to care about values and some sense of transcendent purpose. Many of these voters have found a "politics of meaning" in the political Right. In the Right wing churches and synagogues these voters are presented with a coherent worldview that speaks to their "meaning needs." Most of these churches and synagogues demonstrate a high level of caring for their members, even if the flip side is a willingness to demean those on the outside. Yet what members experience directly is a level of mutual caring that they rarely find in the rest of the society. And a sense of community that is offered them nowhere else, a community that has as its central theme that life has value because it is connected to some higher meaning than one's success in the marketplace. It's easy to see how this hunger gets manipulated in ways that liberals find offensive and contradictory. The frantic attempts to preserve family by denying gays the right to get married, the talk about being conservatives while meanwhile supporting Bush policies that accelerate the destruction of the environment and do nothing to encourage respect for God's creation or an ethos of awe and wonder to replace the ethos of turning nature into a commodity, the intense focus on preserving the powerless fetus and a culture of life without a concomitant commitment to medical research (stem cell research/HIV-AIDS), gun control and healthcare reform, the claim to care about others and then deny them a living wage and an ecologically sustainable environment-all this is rightly perceived by liberals as a level of inconsistency that makes them dismiss as hypocrites the voters who have been moving to the Right. Yet liberals, trapped in a long-standing disdain for religion and tone-deaf to the spiritual needs that underlie the move to the Right, have been unable to engage these voters in a serious dialogue. Rightly angry at the way that some religious communities have been mired in authoritarianism, racism, sexism and homophobia, the liberal world has developed such a knee-jerk hostility to religion that it has both marginalized those many people on the Left who actually do have spiritual yearnings and simultaneously refused to acknowledge that many who move to the Right have legitimate complaints about the ethos of selfishness in American life. Imagine if John Kerry had been able to counter George Bush by insisting that a serious religious person would never turn his back on the suffering of the poor, that the bible's injunction to love one's neighbor required us to provide health care for all, and that the New Testament's command to "turn the other cheek" should give us a predisposition against responding to violence with violence. Imagine a Democratic Party that could talk about the strength that comes from love and generosity and applied that to foreign policy and homeland security. Imagine a Democratic Party that could talk of a New Bottom Line, so that American institutions get judged efficient, rational and productive not only to the extent that they maximize money and power, but also to the extent that they maximize people's capacities to be loving and caring, ethically and ecologically sensitive, and capable of responding to the universe with awe and wonder. Imagine a Democratic Party that could call for schools to teach gratitude, generosity, caring for others, and celebration of the wonders that daily surround us! Such a Democratic Party, continuing to embrace its agenda for economic fairness and multi-cultural inclusiveness, would have won in 2004 and can win in the future. (Please don't tell me that this is happening outside the Democratic Party in the Greens or in other leftie groups--because except for a few tiny exceptions it is not! I remember how hard I tried to get Ralph Nader to think and talk in these terms in 2000, and how little response I got substantively from the Green Party when I suggested reformulating their excessively politically correct policy orientation in ways that would speak to this spiritual consciousness. The hostility of the Left to spirituality is so deep, in fact, that when they hear us in Tikkun talking this way they often can't even hear what we are saying--so they systematically mis-hear it and say that we are calling for the Left to take up the politics of the Right, which is exactly the opposite of our point--speaking to spiritual needs actually leads to a more radical critique of the dynamics of corporate capitalism and corporate globalization, not to a mimicking of right-wing policies). If the Democrats were to foster a religions/spiritual Left, they would no longer pick candidates who support preemptive wars or who appease corporate power. They would reject the cynical realism that led them to pretend to be born-again militarists, a deception that fooled no one and only revealed their contempt for the intelligence of most Americans. Instead of assuming that most Americans are either stupid or reactionary, a religious Left would understand that many Americans who are on the Right actually share the same concern for a world based on love and generosity that underlies Left politics, even though lefties often hide their value attachments. Yet to move in this direction, many Democrats would have to give up their attachment to a core belief: that those who voted for Bush are fundamentally stupid or evil. Its time they got over that elitist self-righteousness and developed strategies that could affirm their common humanity with those who voted for the Right. Teaching themselves to see the good in the rest of the American public would be a critical first step in liberals and progressives learning how to teach the rest of American society how to see that same goodness in the rest of the people on this planet. It is this spiritual lesson-that our own well-being depends on the well-being of everyone else on the planet and on the well-being of the earth-a lesson rooted deeply in the spiritual wisdom of virtually every religion on the planet, that could be the center of a revived Democratic Party.

    Yet to take that seriously, the Democrats are going to have to get over the false and demeaning perception that the Americans who voted for Bush could never be moved to care about the well being of anyone but themselves. That transformation in the Democrats would make them into serious contenders.

Had To Say Something

Mail Becomming a Hassle

I just tried to submit a bug report for the Avel sieve plugin for Squirrelmail. The authors email address is @users.sourceforge.net and I got this response:

...@users.sourceforge.net>: host mail.sourceforge.net[66.35.250.206] said: 
550-Postmaster verification failed while checking <...@shand.net>
550-(result of earlier verification reused). 550-Several RFCs state that
you are required to have a postmaster 550-mailbox for each mail domain.
This host does not accept mail 550-from domains whose servers reject the
postmaster address. 550 Sender verify failed (in reply to RCPT TO command)

I'd never heard of "postmaster verification" before so after a big of digging I discover that some sites out there are now blocking email if the domain the message is sent from doesn't accept email to postmaster@domain. Even though I never get anything but spam from my postmaster alias I've never removed it, but now I have to add a *new* spam trap by aliases postmaster@ every virtual domain I have setup on my server.

Even better they have now cached the fact that I didn't have a postmaster address, so even though I've now fixed it I have to wait an unspecified amount of time for them to retest and allow my email to get through.

It's hardly the end of the world but it seems like everytime I turn around someone has invented some new mechanism for making it hard for me to send email and thus do things like submit bug reports to OpenSource projects. I pity people that don't do this for their living.

Daily Haiku Is Back

I got nostalgic for the old days and resurrected the DailyHaiku script.

Latest and Greatest Travel Site

BusinessWeek talks about Mobissimo, the latest greatest meta search engine for airplane and hotel prices. I've had a quite play and it seems to work really well, including for places in NewZealand (which I didn't expect).

My travel agent got me a better price then Mobissimo but it'll be my new first stop.

Why Hackers Worry

This is from PaulGraham's essay "Good Bad Attitude". It is one of the essays from his book "Hackers & Painters" but has only recently been put online. I liked this quote:

  • This is why hackers worry. The government spying on people doesn't literally make programmers write worse code. It just leads eventually to a world in which bad ideas will win. And because this is so important to hackers, they're especially sensitive to it. They can sense totalitarianism approaching from a distance, as animals can sense an approaching thunderstorm.

The Sound of Inevitability

JohnClegg talks about outsourcing ...

  • “About a year ago I hired a developer in India to do my job. I pay him $12,000 to do the job I get paid $67,300 for. He is happy to have the work. I am happy that I only have to work about 90 minutes per day (I still have to attend meetings myself, and I spend a few minutes every day talking code with my Indian counterpart.) The rest of my time my employer thinks I’m telecommuting. They are happy to let me telecommute because my output is higher than most of my coworkers. Now I’m considering getting a second job and doing the same thing with it. That may be pushing my luck though. The extra money would be nice, but that could push my workday over five hours.” — From posting at SlashDot (02.04.04) (more at WiredMagazine)

I've never worried about outsourcing because my experience of dealing with companies that outsource is that their service is always suckful. I don't think this is a representation of the outsourced workers ability or intent, but rather that people intimately involved in the process always perform better, and care more, then people abstracted from the problem. I think I'm also unable to effectively evaluate the threat simply because I find outsourcing boring, it holds little interest to me other then it's potential to make it harder for me to earn a living. Even thinking as a potential future business owner the only value I see in outsourcing is that it could make me more money, but that's not why I'd want to go into business, I'd go into business as an attempt to do "interesting things" while surrounded by the most interesting people available.

JohnClegg (13/04/2004)

Free

On the Freifunk 2004 email list, Malcolm J. Matson makes this comparison ...

  • Definition of 'Free Network' from http://www.freenetworks.org/

    A FreeNetwork is any computer network that allows free local transit, following the guidelines of our peering agreement. By "transit", we refer to information flowing through the network. While most of our members specialize in wireless networking, a FreeNetwork can be built using Ethernet, fiber optics, or any other kind of networking technology. A FreeNetwork is defined by what its users can do with it, rather than the particular technology it is built on.

    Definition of "Free Market" from the http://www.iea.org.uk/ (The world's first free-market public policy institute)

    The core belief of free-marketeers is that people should be free to do what they want in life as long as they don't harm anyone else. On the whole, society's problems and challenges are best dealt with by people and companies interacting with each other freely without interference from politicians and the State. This means that government action, whether through taxes, regulation or laws, should be kept to a minimum.

Source: http://freifunk.net/mailman/private/fsc04news/2004-September/000123.html (membership required)

Optimism?

Wilfred Bion: Pairing

  • Put very crudely and perhaps over simply the answer to this conundrum, at the end of Bion's journey, turned out something like this. The group, any group, organisation, society, needs and evolves a structure of tasks, roles, procedures, rules, ascribed status (what Bion referred to as the "group culture"), in order to contain the anxiety of the unknown and the responses which, unconsciously, are mobilised to defend against that unknown. The unknown is at the same time what is unknown and feared in each of us and what is unknown in the realities we engage with as we live and work. Within the group, Bion believed, one can see operating a number of powerful unconscious and unlearned, quasi-instinctive, strategies of evasion and denial. Bion came to see these strategies of evasion and denial as constituting what he termed a "group mentality", opposed to the conscious aims, intentions and efforts of individuals. No group, no organisation, and no individual; however sophisticated, is ever wholly outside the sphere of group mentality in this sense. And, paradoxically, Bion believed, this is at least partly because the ability of the group to mobilise group mentality is a powerful unlearned source of co-operation, (Valency) Of course, co-operation has more benign roots than this as well. We need to co operate to achieve many if not all of our individual desires and aims. Just as, and this is a point Bion never denied, we need structures through which to co-operate and give direction to the enterprises we engage in. But these more positive, and more reality based sources of co-operation and structure always as it were "ride on the back" of something far more primitive and defensive. The task of leadership and the intuitive skill of the gifted leader is to balance the requirements of co-operation and structure in the service of reality, with the constraints inevitably imposed by group mentality in the service of defense. I have talked about 'group mentality' here in very general terms. In fact much of Bion's pioneering work lay in his charting the variety of strategies of evasion and denial which comprised that mentality. There were three such strategies which Bion identified, each of which was mutually exclusive, though interchangeable, and each of which was characterised by particular constellations of emotion and fantasy. Bion called these "Basic Assumptions": baslc, because they seemed to be rudimentary, unlearned, instinctive; assumptions, because they operated like myths on the basis of an implicit "as if". They were named respectively as Dependence, Fight\Flight and Pairing. Briefly a group operating under basic assumption dependence behaves "as if it is met in order to be sustained by a leader on whom it depends for nourishment, material and spiritual, and protection". The leader may be a person, a book or set of ideas and beliefs which operates as a bible. A group operating under fight/flight behaves as if it has met to fight something or run away from it.

    A group operating under basic assumption pairing is preoccupied with the idea of the potential birth or emergence of someone or something that will save it from its present state, from feelings of hatred, destructiveness and despair. Its prevailing emotionality is one of hopefulness and expectation: as Bion puts it, that the coming season will be more agreeable; that some new kind of community - an improved group, society, nation - will be developed etc.

Source: http://human-nature.com/group/chap3.html

Photo Opportunity

My dislike of cell phones crystalized when I heard JerrittCollord refer to one as a digital leash. Since arriving in NewZealand a year ago I've managed to survive without one, but I've finally succumbed, primarily due to the free offer of a Nokia 3650 (thanks Matthew!). 1

Given that I will now be always connected I've decided to make the best of it and have some fun. As such I've been learning about GPRS, BlueTooth, PXTing and actually setup a Flickr account for playing with a moblog. If I like it, maybe I'll setup something on spack.org.

In the mean time if you're interested in crappy cellphone pictures of Aotearoa, you can tune in here (ATOM and RSS feeds are available at the bottom of the page).

UPDATE: And now I've added the latest two pictures to the sidebar. Way to go Flickr!

Giving Up

MarkFletcher, the founder of BlogLines has this to say. I can say from personal experience that this transition is very difficult emotionally and where the founders of many successful organizations go wrong.

  • As an employee climbing the corporate ladder at a company, it's all about getting more. More responsibility, more control, a larger salary, a bigger title. However, the exact opposite is true when you start a company. A big part of starting and building a company is about giving up. A founder is in a weird position. When you first start a company, everything is yours. You own all the stock, you make all the decisions. This point of creation is the only time this will be the case, however. Forever after, the founder must give up more and more control to other people and more and more ownership to employees, investors, etc. The founder must do this for the company to be successful, but at the same time this is the opposite of what many people are used to doing.

The Lack of Silence

I've really been enjoying working at WetaDigital recently. My responsibilities are focusing more torwards managment, architecture and project planning which is what I enjoy most. As always, this comes a deluge of meetings and interupt driven work. I don't mind this, in fact I quite like it, but it does make finding uninterupted blocks of time to get technical work done quite challenging.

Even though I've never really liked the way headphones make me feel out of step with reality, I've found that putting my headphones on is an incredibly useful way of isolating myself in a busy office. It's also interesting to experiment with which kinds of music are most condusive to long streches of concentration. I've known for a long time that I can't concentrate with vocally interesting music (why Television is so deathful to my working) and it makes sense that it must be consistent enough that the transitions aren't jarring. I thought LeoKottke would be perfect but it's too interesting, on the other hand BabatundeOlatunji's drum music is wonderful, and recently CrystalMethod has been spending a lot of time blasting out of iTunes.

George Orwell, "1984"

"The war, therefore, if we judge it by the standards of previous wars, is merely an imposture. It is like the battles between certain ruminant animals whose horns are set at such an angle that they are incapable of hurting one another. But though it is unreal it is not meaningless. It eats up the surplus of consumable goods, and it helps to preserve the special mental atmosphere that a hierarchical society needs."

Sniper Yagi

Beetle and CowboyM of the ShmooGroup built a "sniper yagi" for display at this years Defcon conference. Go go gadget Shmoo.

Oh, and despite what they all say it's not based on an M16, it's built on top of a Ruger 10-22 stock.

While you're hanging out check out the up and coming ShmooCon.

Displaying Thumbnails with the Golden Ratio

RobertoDeAlmeida has been playing around with displaying photo gallery thumbnails in such a way that the size of the thumbnails follows the Fibonacci sequence.

I quite like his results.

Chkconfig Wrapper for Debian

I've long been a fan of DebianLinux, it was my first OS love and I've participated in the Debian community for many years. When I was first forced to use RedhatLinux it was generally a fairly painful experience with one exception; chkconfig is so much nicer to use then update-rc.d.

We are starting to experiment with Debian at work, and as part of that BenHall, one my cohorts, has written a simple PerlLanguage wrapper for update-rc.d which allows you to use chkconfig syntax to manipulate Debian's start/stop scripts. The only difference from the Redhat version is that without any arguments it will list all of the services currently configured (which is the way the original SgiIrix version works).

I give you Ben's very own, chkconfig.pl.

"I, Robot"

I haven't seen it at the theatre yet, but I did just discover that I got a screen credit for "I, Robot". w00t, that's two! Of course neither of them have shown up on IMDB yet <grumble> ...

Here, There and Yesteryear ...

It's been pretty quiet around here recently but behind the scenes things have been quietly progressing:

  • I got a promotion at work. It doesn't involve a new title or a raise but it's pretty close to my dream job which goes something like half management, half lead architecture guy ... so that's awesome. However it has effectively sucked any slack time I had been previously been stealing at work.
  • Despite how jealous it would have made the kids in school, my crapful car has finally died. After weighing up all of the possibilities the best solution to reliable and cheap transport to and from work seemed to be a scooter. I have swallowed my pride, bought a helmet and jacket and am happily (but somewhat shamefully) zipping around. No pictures yet but I'll be sure to embarrass myself publicly as the opportunity arises. Oh, and I promise to remember the laws of ScooterPhysics.

  • I've been helping SimonRyan test the very cool MoinMoinGallery. Hopefully I'll get to spend some time converting it to use PIL (the PythonImagingLibrary) tonight and publish the changes.

Fortunately, I hear that silence is golden.

The Joy of Spam

Just when you thought the decrepit excuse was finally about to lose the last remenants of its belivability:

  • "I'm sorry I didn't do anything, I never received your email! Shucks, my ISP sure is crappy."

a brand new excuse for being an slack fuck has arrived:

  • "I'm sorry I didn't do anything, my spam filters mistakenly trapped your email! Shucks, aren't those pesky spammers annoying?"

Neat.

One Year

On July 6th, 2003 Teresa and I arrived in NewZealand. We were met at the airport by old friends, taken to breakfast and then our Hotel. The next day I started work at WetaDigital. Even though I've lived a sizable chunk of my life here, WellingtonNewZealand was a new city to me and it was all new to Teresa. It's had it's ups and downs but we're starting to feel settled and like this could maybe be home for a while.

It's been quite a year ...

Married.
Kayak sailing in the Abel Tasman National Park.
Tired after a very long day of paddling directly into the wind.
Dancing on one of Moeraki's Boulders.
Sunset over Lake Tekapo.
Flying kites with Mike and Simon at Lyall Bay.
Home in Hataitai, Wellington.
Adam's birthday weekend, exploring the North Island's south coast.
Teresa's birthday weekend, running at dusk with Kapiti Island.
Front row seats for the "Lord of the Rings" premiere in Wellington.

Powered by the deeply cool, yet still experimental, MoinMoinGallery by SimonRyan.

Selling the Family Home

My Mum and Dad are moving from Dunedin, NewZealand to another town in the South Island.

Their house is for sale. It's a beautiful coastal property that sits right above the Otago Harbour.

You can see photos of it here:

Click "house" on the menu and you can do some looking around. The house has not been advertised by the agent yet, so this is a "get in before the rest" offer.

It's a three storied house, with the living level on the first (second, if you're an American!) floor which gives great views of the harbour. It has five bedrooms, or three bedrooms and two offices which is how it is configured at present, and a living area of kitchen, dining and living room. It's a very flexible house.

My Dad is happy to answer if you have questions about the house itself, contact him:

  • <brett AT earthlight DOT co DOT nz>

If you are interested in more information about buying the house, please contact the agent: Paul Bernard at L.J.Hooker, Dunedin, there is a mail agent and other contact info on the page below:

http://www.ljhooker.co.nz/agent/agent_page.php?iOfficeCode=1494&subset=speciality

Clean Up

I was doing some digital house cleaning today and came across some old stuff. First this old email from my friend Rebecca:

  • I was just reading the latest NetGuide magazine, and Larry's Joke Page is in their list of the top 50 sites for november!! Isn't that exciting. The section on your site says:

    "Larry has collected a large number of funny stories, some of which apparently offend lots of people. He complains that he has been receiving abusive email, and says he's pretty impressed with the number of meatheads on the Net. If you like humour about sex, geeks, politics or celebrities, this site is for you. He has even taken the trouble to provide a list of (mostly) child-safe jokes. Perhaps this list should go to the top, though."

My jokes page was created while I was at EarthLight because I wanted to learn how to write web pages and needed something for content.

Next is a banner which RoyceWilliams created for me at InternetAlaska to use as letterhead to send to NetworkSolutions so they would agree to let me transfer spack.org:

I only had a mohawk for about three days. If I remember right I did it to annoy my boss (I'm sure he knows who he is :-) ).

H&R Block, err spels gud

Dealing with tax law when you've earned money in two different countries during a tax year is a complicated pain in the ass, so Teresa and I decided to file our USA taxes via H&R Block's online offering. The short version would be to say that we were underwhelmed with the quality of the service and support.

For the slightly longer version:

  • Their web forms fail in random ways when you deviate from the stock standard return.
  • Their web forms tell you that you've incorrectly filled something in but won't tell you what.
  • The web message boards are the sole method of talking to your assigned tax consultant, yet they go unanswered for days, and sometimes weeks, at a time. This happened to both me and Teresa (who filed completely seperate returns) on more then two occasions each during the process.
  • They told Teresa she couldn't efile to the IRS because she was living outside the USA, yet they recommend it as the best option to me.
  • They kept recommending an online payment method which deducts their fee from your tax refund, yet in the end wouldn't let us pay that way because we were out of the country.
  • They wouldn't mail Teresa's tax return in, they insisted on mailing it to her in NewZealand so she could mail it to them from here.

  • They forgot to "reassign" my account to a new tax consultant so I had to call them long distance to get anyone to reply to me when I was running out of time.
  • My account has so far been reassigned to three tax consultants.

Finally, just to top it all off, today Teresa received this email in response to a question. It just sums up the entire experience beautifully ...

Integrating your Apple OSX Clients With Your OpenLDAP Directory

I've just finished writing 2229 words on how to make your AppleOsx clients behave in an enviroment where you keep all your user, group and automount data in an OpenLdap server.

On the plus side making an OSX client behave like a responsible Unix workstation is more or less possible 2. On the down side it's been a long time since I had to use software which is so inconsistent, quirky and stunningly badly documented.

In the hopes that no one else has to spend months of their spare time figuring out how to make all this work, I bring you AppleOsxIntegrationWithOpenldap.

Making Include.py Behave

When I upgraded to version 1.2 of MoinMoin a few months ago, the Include macro which I use to generate this blog, changed and started to print out the name of the included page in a big ugly banner above each page. I spent an embarrasing amount of time staring at the code trying to figure out how to change it, before cursing and giving up.

Fortunately for my sanity JosephSkinner email me the very very simple patch today. On line 218 of the Include.py shipped with version 1.2.2, change this line:

if args.group('heading'):

to:

if args.group('heading') and args.group('heading') != ",":

This may have unexpected consequences that I'm not aware of.

Update: In case you try this and get strange results be aware that that the Include macro is not cache aware. If you have problems with it including more then it's supposed to simply delete the cache from your moin data directory and let it automatically regenerate.

Labels vs. Heirachy

  • "One of the big design choices that Google made when they created Gmail was to drop the idea of folders (or at least user definable folders) and to supply a flexible labeling system instead. My mail filters apply labels to mail from various lists and Gmail makes it easy to view mail with a particular label. If you look at del.icio.us, you'll see that they came to a similar conclusion as Google. When you add links, you can apply any number of labels to them and easily retrieve links by label later. After using both of these systems, I'm completely sold on the idea that labels should take the place of hierarchical systems for organizing information a lot of the time. I don't want a file system that is based on labels, but for many other things, labels make sense. One thing that's worth mentioning is that labels work best alongside a robust search capability."

    Source: http://rc3.org/cgi-bin/less.pl?arg=6320

Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems to me that it's not quite that simple. The big advantage of hierarchy is that you get parent/child relationships as part of the package, this works wonderfully for systems like Blosxom where you may want to browse a general topic (say "Technology"), or you may be interested in something specific (say "Technology/Software/Blosxom/Plugins). The big advantage with labels is that it's trivial for items to belong to multiple categories (say "Perl", "Blog Software" and "Blosxom").

The downside of hierarchies is that the structure, especially a filesystem based structure, makes applying multiple labels much harder (eg. something can't exist in two directories without symlinks and that opens a whole new can of nastiness). The downside of labels is that every item has to be tagged with all relevant labels as there is no inheritance from the parent item, this gets tiresome e.g. all "Blosxom" posts should inherently belong to the "Software" and "Perl" labels as well).

I've also found that label systems (for example this wiki uses labels to categorize pages) seem harder to browse then hierarchy based systems. I've partially attributed this to why wiki sites tend to get ignored, labels just aren't as human friendly a way to browse information.

It seems that the best of both worlds would be to use labels to annotate each item, but to organize your labels in a hierarchy. Thus you can browse your content hierarchically while maintaining the power of labels and the inheritance of hierarchy.

See also: PersonalDataRepository

Beautiful

  • Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?'
    Expediency asks the question, 'Is it politic?'
    Vanity asks the question, 'Is it popular?'
    But, conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?'

    And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one's conscience tells one that it is right." -- MartinLutherKingJr

The Unconference

For some reason I've recently been thinking about running a conference. Not sure what, not sure why, but the idea appeals. This morning I stumbled across RussellBeattie's scathing commentary on the state of Wireless/Mobility conferences in the USA. Considering I've spent the last several years pimping 802.11b it was enlightening to hear what the Telephony side of the crowd is thinking.

Regardless, the best part of the article was the comment by DaveWiner about his UnConference format (see here) that he's trying use for BloggerCon. It addresses many of the frustrations that I've had at many of the conferences I've attended over the years. Nice.

PHP Tunes

JonJohansen, of DeCSS fame, has created a PhpLanguage interface to the Apple Music Store (iTMS) web site called PHP Tunes. You can search for songs, buy songs and listen to the previews (so long as you have a fairplay enabled player like iTunes or VLC). Beautiful.

http://phptunes.gforge.linuxpowered.com/

Ray Charles

Relaxing on the couch with Teresa and a beer while listening to RayCharles, I love "Busted". We saw him a couple of years ago at one of the yearly summer concerts held at the PortlandOregon Zoo. It was great, we drank beer, lounged in the sun on the grass and enjoyed the music and the company, I think we even danced for a while. It was an amazing show, he was obviously getting a little old but you could tell he loved being on the stage by the way his feet never stopped moving. At the end of the show the roadies literally had to drag him off the stage to get him to stop playing.

Teresa just discovered that he had just finished a FrankSinatra style duets album called "Genius Loves Company" with NoraJones, JamesTaylor, EltonJohn, WillieNelson, BB King, JohnnyMattis and VanMorrison. Damn ... added to my wishlist.

Moving to Portland

From the WillametteWeek, crazy ...

  • LinusTorvalds, the tech-world idol who launched the OpenSource operating system Linux from his bedroom in Finland more than a decade ago, is moving to PortlandOregon. Torvalds, who works with Beaverton's Open Source Development Lab, has purchased a Portland-area home and enrolled his kids in school. Many Portland programmers work on Linux, a populist public-domain phenomenon (see "The Rebel Alliance," Jan. 28, 2004).

Willamette Week

PersonalTelco, with NigelBallard's mug shot, made the cover of the WillametteWeek, PortlandOregon's second largest news paper (and largest alternative news paper). The WillametteWeek was the only large paper in Portland that hadn't written about PersonalTelco, and to make it to the cover is a big deal. I spoke to ZachDundas, the reporter, for a bit over email and he is quite a nice guy. Thanks to him and Nigel for the wonderful article, and thanks to the rest of the PTP crew for keeping the faith.

"The idea of building a community-run network, and being able to say to the telecom companies, 'Ha! See! We don't need you!,' seemed like an incredibly fun goal," says Adam Shand, the New Zealander who started Personal Telco in November 2000, while he was working for a doomed Beaverton dot-com. "It seemed totally feasible that anyone who wanted to be online could be."

The Case of the Jumpy Trackpad

Turns out I'm not insane, the trackpad on my Apple iBook might really be jumping around sporadically. Heh, at least Apple admits this one ...

  • The trackpad on these PowerBooks and iBooks works on a principle called coupling capacitance. As your finger moves over the surface, the trackpad evaluates the change in capacitance between two layers of measurement electrodes built into the surface of the trackpad and translates that to cursor movement. Verify only one part of your finger is touching the pad. You cannot use a pen or other object--the trackpad is designed to work only with your finger. Also confirm that you are not resting your wrist on or very close to the pad. The trackpad may interpret this as your wrist touching it and make the cursor move in that direction. If you suspect either of these is causing the cursor's behavior, try raising your wrist in the air and touch the pad with only the tip of your finger. If the symptom goes away then, you know that one of the above is the cause, and you should adjust the position of your wrist or finger. If you have sweaty hands or if moisture collects on the pad, this may also confuse the trackpad. Wiping off the trackpad with a cloth or tissue usually fixes this issue. If the issue goes away when a piece of paper is put between the finger and trackpad you may want to consider purchasing a Teflon applique to fit over the pad to prevent the moisture from having direct contact with the trackpad. Before installing the Teflon applique, confirm the trackpad is clean and dry. You can use a mild glass cleaner sprayed onto the cloth, not onto the trackpad itself to clean the trackpad.

    Oil or lotion can also cause the same issue. Do not use hand lotion, or consider purchasing a Teflon pad to protect the trackpad. Before installing the Teflon pad, confirm the trackpad is clean and dry.

How To Show The Full Headers Of An Email Message

As an email administrator I always get saddled with the task of helping users extract the full headers from their email message (oftem often over the phone) before I can solve their problem. As my personal distance from MicrosoftWindows grows it gets harder and harder to remember the exact procedure for email clients I no longer use.

Thanks to a brief spurt of productivity at work, and the help of BrettShand, we've written a short guide called HowToShowTheFullHeadersOfAnEmailMessage.

The intention is that this will provide a document which users can be pointed at to learn from and administrators can use as a reference when guiding users through the process in unfamiliar email clients. Feel free to add clients you use or help make it easier to understand.

A Group is it's Own Worst Enemy

At the 2003 O'Reilly EmergingTechnology confernence ClayShirky gave a keynote speech titled "A GroupIsItsOwnWorstEnemy". It really struck home to me based on my experiences with the CommunityWireless movement and my time with the PersonalTelco Project in particular. It especially struck home because it showed me exactly where I had failed worst as a leader (though I did learn a lot!).

What I unknowingly did was create "not enough order" which ended up being quite destructive to the groups social dynamics. Surprisingly other groups that stayed completely adhoc were actually better off, sure they had flame fests, arguments, alienation and chaos but because there was no pecking order it never ramped out of control. I tried to learn from their "mistakes" and instituted regular meetings where we took notes, asked people to perform functions and created the occasional committee but by and large still played fast and loose because that's what I like best, organized chaos.

Unfortunately what this did was create a pecking order with no clear way to climb it, or know where you stand. I watched us become increasingly cliquish and xenophobic, and it drove me crazy because I knew it was something I was doing but I couldn't figure out what. The penny didn't drop until Clay's speech and by then I was too burnt out and frustrated to know what to do or have the energy to figure it out.

See also: TheTyrannyOfStructurelessness, EmergingTechnologyClayShirkyKeynote

First Journal Cover

I started writing poetry when my family moved to NewZealand shortly after my sixteenth birthday. The shock of moving from SantaCruzCalifornia to DunedinNewZealand in 1989 was made bearable by the discovery that there were kids who had compatible interests and ambitions including a profound lack of respect for anything dictated by "The Man". The poetry was accidental, and eventually lapsed into prose, but I kept at it for years until I'd amassed a sufficient collection to be embarrassing when girlfriends discovered it.

This is a transcription of the cover of my first journal. The words were written over a series of years between my senior year of high school and dropping out of college and starting EarthLight.

ROCK CLIMBING STEVE JACKSON WON OPERATION SUN 
DEVIL WETWARE CYBERUP TETRIS HACK PUBLIC KEYS  
HELP LOGIN CYBERPUNK IMHO FLAME PASSWORD 
RESERVOIR DOGS BTW BAUD NEUROMANCER VIR 
TUAL REALITY SNEAKERS FBI BLUE BOXING PREA
KING  BRUCE STERLING WILLIAM GIBSON HYP 
ER COLOR ANARCHISTS COOKBOOK PCMCIA

BAD LIEUTENANT TELNET ACTRIX
EARTHLIGHT COMMUNICATIONS HYP 
ER STREET FIGHTER CELL
ULAR PHONES LAP
TOPS DATA CONNECT THE WELL 
PURPLE COMBUS FTP 
NNTP ZYXEL THE BE 
ST CHANGING THE WORLD 
TOUCH OF DEATH BETTER
KNOWN AS STOP TO STUN GLOBAL
NETWORK NEWS ERIK 
SUN OAKLEYS MINIDISCS AREO 
LUS FAST ?ARLERS CELLULAR 
SECRETARY NEVE PLA 
?TIN? BOOTS SOPHISTO CYPER PUNK 
THE NSA PHIL ZIMMERMAN LO 
NG HAIR CLOCKS 
DVA THE DISPOSABLE HEROS 
THE NET TRAVEL POWER PC 
POWER OPEN ARCHITECTURE
SUN SPARC STATION MARIJUA
NA BEAUTIFUL WOMEN UNIX CONSULTING
BIG MONEY BIG PRIZES KEN FAITH NO
MORE NIN MACPACK THERMAREST

Spam on the Debian Lists

Pascal Hakim talks about the amount of spam received by the DebianLinux mailing lists, . To anyone that doesn't get a lot of email, or deal with email professionally, hopefully this gives you some concept of the scope of the problem. It's beyond ridiculous.

  • Everyone once in a while, someone complains about spam on Debian lists. I keep promising people some automated numbers and graphs, but haven't gotten around to it. In the mean time, feel free to look at these.

    Type

    19/5/2004

    18/5/2004

    Emails allowed through

    2,082

    2,287

    B locked by spam filters

    5,239

    6,068

    Blocked by Debian RBL

    8

    48

    Blocked by Postfix mime checks

    1,770

    1,892

    Blocked by Postfix body and header checks

    30,700

    32,608

    Blocked by Sender rejects

    20,476

    20,267

    Emails delivered out to subscribers

    1,489,400

    1,350,760

    Hopefully those numbers show exactly what we are up against. And yes, you are reading those numbers right. 3.5% of messages or so that are sent to a list actually make it to the list.

I've been fairly vocal about my dislike of blacklists and challenge response systems as a way of controlling spam (see SpamBlacklistsConsideredHarmful and ChallengeResponseSystemsConsideredHarmful). However I would like to encourage everyone who maintains, or has influence over the maintainer of, a domain name to investigate SPF, the SpamPreventionFramework. The very short version of how it works is that domain name administrators add an entry to their DNS records which lists the mail servers which are allowed to send mail for that domain. This doesn't attempt to directly stop spam, instead it aims to make forgery of the senders address as difficult as possible. Regardless you are better off reading the executive summary than listening to me.

SPF isn't trivial to implement and will only be effective if it becomes widely deployed (much like anti-relaying rules which were deployed in the mid-ninties), but what appeals to me is that it doesn't require collateral damage. That's not to say there won't be any, but rather that it's all technically avoidable (where as it's impossible to avoid with blacklists or CR systems).

I hope to have the changes made to spack.org, shand.net and wetafx.co.nz join the company of google.com, aol.com and oreilly.com in the near future. I'll report back ...

W3 Photo

The SemanticWeb, like WikiSoftware, seems to be a concept which instantly alienates or appeals to people. Having the web be inherently searchable and classifiable seems to defy imagination, yet it is one of those ideas where the more you think about it the cooler it becomes. Even though I can't think of a practical reason to annotate my photo collection, the concept appeals to my obsessive organizing nature.

I've talked about FotoNotes before, but now the W3 seems to be using something similar (possibly the same software that powers FotoNotes?) for old conference pictures and is asking the public to help annotate them.

You have to login before you can contribute, but if there is a region of the picture you know about that hasn't been described, you simply draw a box around it with your mouse and it will open a window asking you for a description. Here's an example of an annotated picture.

See also: http://fotonotes.net/, http://flickr.com/

Open Access Point Equals Anonimity?

This artical from Micah Joel on Salon provides an interesting new twist on why you might want to open up your access point at home ...

  • May 18, 2004  |  Last week, I turned off all the security features of my wireless router. I removed WEP encryption, disabled MAC address filtering and made sure the SSID was being broadcast loud and clear. Now, anyone with a wireless card and a sniffer who happens by can use my connection to access the Internet. And with DHCP logging turned off, there's really no way to know who's using it. What's wrong with me? Haven't I heard about how malicious wardrivers can use my connection from across the street to stage their hacking operations? How my neighbors can steal my bandwidth so they don't have to pay for their own? How I'm exposing my home network to attacks from the inside? Yup. So why am I doing this? In a word, privacy. By making my Internet connection available to any and all who happen upon it, I have no way to be certain what kinds of songs, movies and pictures will be downloaded by other people using my IP address. And more important, my ISP has no way to be certain if it's me.

    ...

Family

  • And I realized in that moment that right now, here in this small desert corner of the world, I have a dog and a baby and a husband who is willing to learn how to poop more quickly and this is all I ever wanted. I am so wonderfully lucky.

    ...

Wedding Pictures

It took a lot longer then expected but wedding pictures are finally up! After many nights of painstakingly going through the pictures, sorting the wheat from the crap we eventually gave in to expediency and did what was easy. The pictures up are a collection from many different people, including the wedding photographer, Simon Burrow, Mark Stevens, Marco Esparza, Marianne Berus, Shannon Murray and all of the unknown photographers who used the disposable cameras that were floating around the reception.

Thank you to everyone who took and gave us pictures, offered advice and showed up to play and celebrate with us in Hahei. We love you all.

Poor Mikey

StevenFrank posts about the recent E3 conference (which by the way was partially planned using pages on this wiki ;-) ). This picture made me laugh. Poor Mikey, I've never seen anyone look this unhappy surrounded by cute girls ...

e3_mikebabe

Watched Pot

I used to be a total FreshMeat junkie, reading it almost every day and chaffing at the painfully slow progress made by the OpenSource community. Eventually I decided that there had to be something better for me to do with my time and stopped obsessively monitoring the progress of the projects I cared about. Yesterday I poked around for the first time in ages and found PmWiki, written by PatrickMichaud, which looks to be an impressive new comer into the WikiSoftware space. It supports most of the features I care about and includes many that I've wished for in MoinMoin for a long time, including an photo gallery plugin.

I don't immediately see a way to blog using it but I need to poke around a bit more. I wish it was written in Python but then it does seem so much easier to develop web application in PHP.

UPDATE: From reading the PmWiki web site I also discovered OddMuse which is based on UseMod only with many many more features, including a raft of blogging specific functions. Nice.

Organizational Fetish

I'm obsessed by the organizational process of managing my personal knowledge, I imagine it's where my love of wiki comes from. I thought for a while that it was the generic management of knowledge that fascinated but I'm not a good librarian, it's specifically about me. Several times I've tried to move away from MoinMoin for some new promising application but I've learned to be suspicious of those desires, Moin has served me incredibly well and every time I try to migrate I simply waste a lot of time and end up back where I started.

With that in mind, I've been keeping my eye on ?PyBlosxom for a long time. I love the simplicity and elegance of the Blosxom approach, using the filesystem to store your MetaData was obvious, but a stroke of brilliance. For example, a frustration I have with Moin is that if I want to change the name of a category I have to change the category tag on every single page which belongs to that category. Admittedly it's easily done with a big of regex magic and some shell code, but the hurdle is large enough that it's a barrier to "doing as you think", you have to be fairly sure before you bother, which again makes you less likely to experiment. In Blosxom a simple rename of a directory suffices.

Roberto Antonio Ferreira De Almeida has just written an image gallery plugin for ?PyBlosxom. It uses directories for albums (similar to iPhoto), stores MetaData using RDFPic instead of EXIF/IPTC and doesn't do thumbnails in a way that will deal with my 1000's of images, but it's a really good start and might do what I need with a bit of poking ...

Update: There are other gallery plugins as well! One from JeremySydik mentioned on the devel list which you can see in action on his blog. And an other in the PyBlosxom plugin registry which you can see in action MagnusNordlander's blog..

Shmoo Group @ Defcon 12

<sniff> ... I miss those guys ...

  • From the same crazy folks who brought you Airsnort, Airsnarf, Bluesniff, Fine Tooth Comb, HotspotDK, and yes, the HackerBot, comes the annual deluge of wireless wackiness. The ShmooGroup takes a break from beer, Root-Fu, and their constant media-whore campaign to just give Shmoo shtuff away, and it's all wireless-related for you RF rogues. Updated hardware. Updated software. Blah, blah, same old boring sh— WAIT! What's this?! NEW hardware? NEW software? OMFG. Bow before the Sniper Yagi! Bork all sorts of "secure" wireless networks with new tools from the Shmoon! It's time to update your kick-ass arsenal, folks! If you're a "Wireless Warrior", TSG has your "Wireless Weaponry"— and a saved-for-DefCon announcement sure to make the Shmoo in you rejoice!

    The ShmooGroup is a non-profit think-tank comprised of security professionals from around the world who donate their free time and energy to information security research and development. They get a kick out of sharing their ideas, code, and stickers at DefCon. Whether it's Root-Fu, lock-picking, war-flying, or excessive drinking, TSG has become a friendly DefCon staple in recent years past. Visit www.shmoo.com for more info.

    ...

Public Broadcast Cart

I love this. Totally love this. I don't know what it is about these sorts of projects, I'm honestly not even sure yet what it is that defines "these sorts of projects" but they fill me delight and inspire me to reach out and try similar things. I think this needs to be a personal priority, to distill to the essence what it is that fascinates me about these ideas.

  • Public Broadcast Cart is a shopping cart outfitted with a dynamic microphone, a mixer, an amplifier, six speakers, a miniFM transmitter and a laptop with a wireless card. The audio captured by the microphone on the cart is fed through the mixer to three different broadcast sources. The mixer simultaneously feeds the audio:

    • to the amplifier that powers the six speakers mounted on the cart
    • to an FM transmitter transmitting to an FM frequency
    • to the laptop that sends the audio to the thing.net's server from which the audio is broadcast on line at http://radio.thing.net

    ...

On a similar note I notice that ArsElectronica hosted an "International Competition for Cyber Arts", including the category of "digital community". I see a lot of familiar names winning prizes or honorable mention including NycWireless, del.icio.us, WikiPedia, WikiTravel, GPS::Tron, CreativeCommons, Bush in 30 Seconds, Kuro5hin, Lomography and many many more I haven't had the pleasure of learning about yet. Interestingly the MeatBall Wiki community applied but sadly didn't make it through. Regardless it's good to see the positive feedback loops being reinforced.

Spack Empire of Doom

Thanks for your financial commitment to the Spack Empire of Doom, as we like to say around here "Our brother has been hooked up". Not only are you entitled to one unix account with IMAP, POP3, webmail, webssh (plus more!) but another person of your choosing can also be hooked up. Yes you heard right, for your measly contribution, ANOTHER ENTIRE PERSON can also be hooked up for the same low price.

You will have noticed that your shit has been hooked from the old empire to the new empire, as if by magic. These are the sorts of services you receive when you pledge your soul to us. Some of the empires minor settings have changes so have a peruse of your new value system:

Unfortunately you've joined the empire in a time of trouble. Currently we are fighting the evil forces of NFS and things can be a "little slow" from time to time. If you have such experiences or troubles please help us out by cursing the appropriate gods. We hope that an up and coming prayer window this weekend will help avoid future curses from the mighty NFS server.

The End of an Era

Maus was the first computer I ever bought and has lived out on the internet in a variety of homes since early 2000. It was the first home of spack.org and hosted my own, my families and friends email, websites, mailing lists, databases and projects. For a long time it was even the only server for PersonalTelco. For a little Celeron 366 it has served faithfully and long.

Today, after a prolonged transition period, it was officially decomissioned today in favour of the newer PdxColo virtual host, whose hardware I don't have to manage in NewZealand.

Goodbye maus!

maus(root)# rm -rf /

maus(root)# ls /
su: /bin/ls: No such file or directory

maus(root)# echo /*/*
/dev/initctl /dev/pts /proc/1 /proc/105 /proc/13 /proc/1885 /proc/2 /proc/26499 /proc/26501 /proc/26502 
/proc/3 /proc/4 /proc/4568 /proc/4570 /proc/4571 /proc/4572 /proc/4831 /proc/5 /proc/6 /proc/7267 
/proc/7270 /proc/7280 /proc/73 /proc/7304 /proc/7343 /proc/7354 /proc/7355 /proc/7356 /proc/74 
/proc/7496 /proc/75 /proc/7509 /proc/7580 /proc/7584 /proc/7587 /proc/7588 /proc/bus /proc/cmdline 
/proc/cpuinfo /proc/devices /proc/dma /proc/driver /proc/execdomains /proc/fb /proc/filesystems /proc/fs 
/proc/ide /proc/interrupts /proc/iomem /proc/ioports /proc/irq /proc/kcore /proc/kmsg /proc/ksyms 
/proc/loadavg /proc/locks /proc/meminfo /proc/misc /proc/modules /proc/mounts /proc/mtrr /proc/net 
/proc/partitions /proc/pci /proc/self /proc/slabinfo /proc/stat /proc/swaps /proc/sys /proc/sysvipc 
/proc/tty /proc/uptime /proc/version

Adam Shand Found Dead

Sucky, there aren't many of us.

  • Phnom Penh, Apr. 28 (UPI) -- The step-brother of Britain's late Princess Diana has been found dead of an apparent drug overdose in the red-light district of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Police confirmed the body of Adam Shand Kydd, 49, was taken from a hostel late Tuesday, The Times of London reported.

    ...

Technology In Politics

BoingBoing is reporting that the Canadian Green Party is using TikiWiki to buid a living campaign platform. Cool!

Update: TimeBray reports that the Canadian Government is also UsingRss whole bunch for various news Canadian. I really dig this.

I just found MarkFletcher's (the founder of BlogLines and eGroups) blog. I like the way he talks about starting a business, this in particular caught my interest because of similarites to discussions I've had about the future of CommunityWireless and PersonalTelco.

  • "I've said it before, but I'll say it again [...] when designing a service, assume hardware is free. Assume processing power and storage are infinite. Because they approach that over time, and limiting them does your service more harm than good. In addition, I think at this point you can also assume that bandwidth is free."

Bad Server, No Doughnut

So you'll notice that things around here have been less then stable. The server is periodically unavailable, both of the RSS feeds on the server are broken and the asthetics are at best horrible.

All I can say is there are reasons and I haven't the time to fix them right now, but I'll get to it when I have a chance. In the mean time, I hope you bear with me.

Goddamn You - You fucked-up, Crazy-ass, Weirdo Beaver

Beautiful, just beautiful ...

Read the rest.

Managing Photos

Having to face the reality of organizing and publishing the thousands of wedding photos that were generated has me in despair about the current state of photo gallery software. Last week I thought I'd found a great solution. Import and organize the photo's with iPhoto (possibly using Image Capture instead as it allows automatic tagging with IPTC data) and then publish with a combination of rsync and myPhoto. This allows me to manage my photo's locally in iPhoto which is convenient. It also then forces me to create a complete backup of my photo's (currently the hardest part of my data to backup due to raw size) by rsync'ing my entire "iPhoto Library" folder to my DebianLinux server where myPhoto's PHP scripts dynamically uses all the album, title and caption data from the rsync'd "iPhoto Library" folder to build web galleries.

This is great from a work flow point of view:

  1. Take pictures.
  2. Import to laptop via iPhoto.
  3. Delete, retouch, organize in iPhoto.
  4. Publish to server via rsync.
  5. Done.

Now there are lots of little things that aren't perfect with this solution, iPhoto doesn't support heirarchical albums and isn't the best organization or retouching solution, myPhoto doesn't support keywords, but mostly this is solves the problems I want solved in a clean and simple manner. But there is a problem in paradise, fucking iPhoto doesn't support the IptcSpecification. This means that all of my hardwork titling, captioning and keywording my photo's is locked into iPhoto. ARG!!!

Hacked

Well I got sloppy and misconfigured the spack.org wiki and got hacked, and so a goodly portion of last week was spend rebuilding ronin instead of vacationing like I was supposed to. Lame.

Anyway this means that I am now going back through the collection of sloppy things that I've allowed to accumulate in the servers configuration over the years and making them "do the right thing".

In the process I've upgraded to version 1.2 of MoinMoin and there are many small things which are not right yet and will be slowly fixed over time. The big difference is that the old sidebar theme is no longer present, but that's okay because I didn't really like it that much anyway. I'll be slowly tweaking a new theme using Moin's new theming support.

Wedding Pictures

Still sorting through the mind numbingly huge pile of pictures that was taken, I think there were more digital camera's present then people ...

In the mean time here's the link to the semi-official pictures from the wedding photographer David (whose wife Stephanie) performed the ceremony.

Married

About two weeks later we're back in WellingtonNewZealand and I'm a married man. Everything went off without a hitch, friends and family were fabulous and we had a great time hanging out in HaheiNewZealand (one of my favourite places in the world). Better yet the weather was spectacular.

Pictures will be coming soon ...

The Beginning of the End of the Beginning

Tonight at 8:50PM Teresa and I board a train with bags full of the requisite gear. Our overnight journey ends bright and early in AucklandNewZealand, where we meet up with with her parents and sister who arrived the night before. From there we do the Kiwi Tourist thing and drive around seeing and doing the things that need to be seen and done by people who have never been to NewZealand before.

On the way to Hahei, about halfway up the east side of the Coromandel Penisula, we stop for a night in Thames to get the necessary paperwork. Tuesday we arrive in Hahei, which is about a three hour drive from Auckland. For twenty-four hours we run around frantically trying to get done all the things that need getting without murdalizing each other.

Wednesday the guests start trickling in, including my parents and sister. That night Teresa's family and my family get to meet for the first time over dinner at a local restuarant, Teresa is wearing her new little black dress. Over dinner we'll get to see how Teresa's hardened Polish heritage interacts with my mellowed hippie heritage.

Thursday we mess about, with the messing culminating in a group BBQ outside our beachside villa's.

Friday, at approximately 5PM, we become man and wife on the beach. There is champagne, probably some hooting and hollering and maybe some crying. At the reception Teresa and I have faithfully promised each other that we will not drink "too much". We've left "too much" up to subjective interpretation.

Saturday we lounge about in post-coital bliss, with another BBQ that afternoon for those that remain.

Sunday we depart with friends for a lazy meander back home to WellingtonNewZealand.

Throughout this period we dance and sing and pray for good weather. So far the weather gods have given no indication of hearing, caring or anything.

local.google.com

Google's new beta service local.google.com is quite impressive.

For example, say I want to search for the "Leakey Roof" which is a bar near my old house in downtown PortlandOregon. You put in your search term, and some form of geographic search constraint (say the zip code) and you get back a map and a list of matches within that region. In this case I get this as the first match which is exatly right:

Name

Address

Related Web Pages

Leaky Roof Tavern
(503) 222-3745

1538 SW Jefferson St
Portland, OR 97201
1 mi N - Directions

The Leaky Roof - The friendliest restaurant in Portland ...
Leaky Roof restaurant. The home of the best food ...
theleakyroof.com - and more related pages »

This sort of searching especially useful when combined with ubiquitous computing and pervasive wireless networks. I'm still waiting for the day I can open my PDA and ask it what's going on nearby and get a useful answer.

Include: Nothing found for "^----"!

wifi is a technology that is using for high speed internet. wifi range determines the range for wireless systems. wifi hotspots are used for transferring of data through wire. * wifi * wifi * wifi security * wifi services * wifi hotspots * WiFi Cards * WiFi Radio * WiFi Antenna * wifi * wifi * wifi hotspots * wifi * wifi * Wifi Hotspots * WiFi Antenna * WiFi Range * WLAN

Face Time with Oscar

P1010425sized

See also:AdamShand/2004-03-05

The Amount of Solar Cells it Would Take to Power the USA

texas

Source: http://www.floatingplanet.net/planetp2/archives/000380.html

Well it turns out that it's a little more complicated then that, here's an excellent follow up comment from Dave Fitz. I totally agree, that what is really needed is something that the Average Joe can afford and will provide a reasonable return on investment in the short to middle term (say five to ten years).

  • First off, you borked the energy calculation by a factor of 10. Solar energy in high summer at noon is around 1100 watts/square meter. 100 watts per square foot is thus a total figure, before conversion efficiencies. Assuming 10% efficient cells gets us 10 watts/ft2, not 100. This gives a calculation of needed land mass ten times what you assume, or 12,160 square miles. Second, this figure is a maximum. Even assuming 10 sunny hours/day, most of that will be at considerably less than ideal conditions and relatively low angles of incidence. A more reasonable calculation would be the equivalent of six hours a day at maximum output, giving a land mass of 48,640 square miles. This is still not un-doable, giving a square 220 miles on a side, but is much more than your maps show. The actual materials for solar cells are cheap and abundant- the problem is the refining and processing to get a functional solar cell from them. These are not nearly as elastic to scale as material or labor costs. Figure that now large solar cells regularly cost $30/ft2, and that you might be able to beat that down to $10/ft2. This would cost $270 million per square mile, for a total materials cost of $13.1 trillion. This would represent a cost of $43,776 per American man, woman, and child. Installation and wiring. even at 10% of the solar cell cost, would still run another $1.31 trillion. As for maintenance and expected lifetime, there really is no way to make those assumptions here. Finally, solar cells in the 20% range have been in labs since the '80s, and are expected to stay there..they cost far more than the same power output from less efficient cells. Quantum mechanics says that the maximum possible photoelectric efficiency is around 35%, for reasons of energy transfer of photons to electrons that can't be changed or gotten around. No improvements are expected any time soon that might approach this, either.

    I'm not against the idea, per se, but my own researches have convinced me that thermal concentrators are probably going to be more workable than photoelectric cells, and a distributed model would be far more acceptable to a power grid than even the best centralized system. I really think that what we need right away is something that a normal person could buy and use without the resources of a municipality.

Bitter Sweet

  • We're here to build networks and chew bubblegum. And we're all out of bubblegum.

When PersonalTelco was first discussing becoming a nonprofit organization I spent a lot of time emailing friends of friends and arranging after work meetings to try and grasp what we would be getting ourselves into.

One of the pieces of advice that stuck with me was to make the bylaws unambiguously clear. The reason they said was that "nonprofit organizations bring out the worst in people". My friend Graham had beaten a similar message into me years ago over the value of written contracts when friends do business, so it was a message I was primed to hear. Due to this one of my conditions of allowing PersonalTelco to become a nonprofit was that we find the money to have actual lawyers draw up all the legal documents.

This advice was truer then I could know. It wasn't just that having a legal framework for our hobby group meant that there were now board positions and bylaws to quibble over ... it changed peoples motivations. Suddenly there were cliques and factions, people started investing time and energy into climbing the political ladder of our fledgling nonprofit. At the time I was baffled and felt betrayed by people I considered my friends. I couldn't fathom why these people who'd worked selflessly beside me for over a year suddenly wanted to spend their time gossiping about all the things I was doing wrong and plotting ways to take over. They wanted to spend more time talking about the rules and our public image then just doing the work that needed doing.

The three of us who signed our names to the legal document, Michael, Lucas and I burned out in rapid succession. Maybe we were dreamers not builders, maybe we were just too emotionally invested to separate ourselves from the project. For me the moment came smoking a cigarette on my porch. I suddenly realized that I could have achieved more of my goals for community wireless by simply dedicating two years of my life to writing code and documentation and talking to my neighbors. I'd expected that by taking point more would get done faster and my realization totally sapped my faith.

I didn't yet grasp that the formalization of the organization also meant the formalization of the dream. It meant that parts of my dream became parts of our mission. What felt like a compromise actually created a meme that spread to everyone involved. Each person that accepted the dream got to take ownership of it and tear out the pieces that were important to them and fight for them.

I talked a lot about the strength of community while I was standing in front of people. I understood in essence, though not in practice, the extent to which true community means diversity, and divesity means dissention. I didn't understand that every person that disagreed with me and caused a ruckus over the little things, wasn't being divisive, they were sticking up for their dream.

The oft repeated reason for incorporating into a nonprofit was to make something which could survive the departure of a few key people, to explicitly make it more then "Adam's Hobby Group". I said in my PartingSpeech that I hoped PersonalTelco would do more without me then they ever had with me. I think you're well on your way.

Other Than Pursuant to Requests

ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURE
ARTS & SCIENCE

This statue may not be sold, conveyed or otherwise
transferred (other than pursuant to requests) without
first being offered to the academy.

Update: See AdamShand/2004-03-09

Ghost Sysadmin

RyanWise got this email and forwarded it on to me, I believe his phrase was "comic gold". I'm impressed, I had no idea I was a target, let alone this organized!

From: noreply@spack.org
Date: March 3, 2004 9:20:23 AM PST
To: wise@spack.org
Subject: Notify about using the e-mail account.

Dear  user of "Spack.org" mailing system,

Some of  our  clients complained  about the spam (negative e-mail content)
outgoing from  your e-mail account. Probably,  you  have  been infected by
a proxy-relay trojan server. In order  to keep  your  computer safe,
follow the instructions.

For further details see the  attach.

Attached file protected with the  password for  security reasons. Password
is 12484.

Have  a good day,
    The  Spack.org  team                             http://www.spack.org

Update: Ooh, ooh! And I got one as well, only my password is different. I wonder if they sent Ryan something different then me ...

Holidays

There are no employees at WetaDigital, everyone from the VFX Producer on down, is an independant contractor. The good part of this is that we're all hourly so we get overtime, one of the bad parts is that we don't get any paid public holidays. No Christmas, no Easter, no Labour Day, no Waitangi Day and of course no Fourth of July or Thanksgiving.

Today, the day of the Oscars, *is* a paid holiday. As we get paid to sit, eat and drink the last five years of peoples lives is being validated. Will PeterJackson get best director, will WetaDigital get best effects, will WetaWorkshop get best design?

I've only seen the last six months, I arrived when everyone was struggling to finish. My introduction was watching ridiculous workloads, frayed tempers and large personalities barely avoid erupting into choas. My introduction was watching the phenomenally talented do the almost impossible.

Even my brief exposure was crazy, stupid and fun. Here's to Kong.

Update: Halfway through the Oscar's RichardTaylor phoned back to say "open the bar". We don't need no steenk'n drink vouchers.

Dear World

I am not some psychotic fuck or pathetic loser trying to end my worthless existence. Nor am I one of these pussies using "suicide" as a cry for help. I kill myself tonight as king of the world. Things could not be better.

Which is why I leave this world. Things just can't get better. I have reached the pinnacle of life, and not just my life, the zenith of existence itself. Bliss, Nirvana, Utopia. I am at the top of the mountain, not at the bottom like most suicidal fucks. Unfortunately, knowing that, I cannot go forward with the days ahead because they will never again be as good as tonight. I just snorted not 1, but 2 lines of coke off of not 2, but 3 girls' chests. Then we all 4 made sweet beautiful love. The kind of tender sweet beautiful love they sing rap songs about. Then we washed rinsed and repeated it all.

It is truly the best night that could ever be, which is why it must end tonight. Life can now only get worse. Nothing is left for me here in this world. Every seemingly joyous moment from here forward would be compared to tonight and fall miserably short. I will never surpass the level of happiness that I have tonight. So, I'm going out on top, high as hell, feeling good, and my seed spread across the faces of 3 beautiful women. It's nice to be me.

Viva Life,
Adam Shand

P.S. All those gay pornos aren't mine. They're a friend's. And I was superimposed.

Source: http://www.porkjerky.com/suicide.htm

How Smart Does Your Bed Have To Be, Before You Are Afraid To Go To Sleep At Night?

Snipets from a wonderful presentation by RichGold (ex-XeroxParc) about intelligent houses and why and how things are designed. Linked via worldchaning.com.

  • Do you believe that making pancakes for you and your lover in the morning is in itself a wonderful thing? If you were asked by your company to design a product called "Lover's Instant Pancakes" would you? Would you do it because that's your job or because, perhaps, you think it would give you more time for love making? What if they're not quite as good as made from scratch pancakes in taste? What if they don't quite fill the kitchen with the same smell? What if they contain a small, though probably not harmful, amount of preservative? If you are an architect and "Lover's Instant Pancakes" was a major success, would you build a special chute from the kitchen to the bedroom so that nobody has to leave bed to get the pancakes? Is there something special about the cold feet of a lover returning to bed? How do you know your lover loves you? What do you and your lover talk about?

  • .. Is time the only real commodity left? Why is Virtual Reality always posited in terms of space, when time is the only real commodity left?

    ...

Unified Recent Changes

Nice ... a UnifiedRecentChanges processor for MoinMoin. I'm really impressed with the amount of work the MoinMoin development team is cranking out.

Vote John P. in '04

My friend John has gone back in time in order to run for president as a 9 nine year old. I'm hoping we can count on your support to get him elected.

Why PDA's Trump Cellphones

I know from past experience that I will only carry one device with me, be it a cellphone, PalmPilot or camera, for whatever reason I am mentally prepared to carry only one device. I've tried convincing myself of the advantages, but it never flys, it's one device or none.

I've been trying to decide what that one device will be for a long time, I want a cell phone, GPRS, camera, voice recorder, bluetooth and basic PDA functionality. In my dreams it would also be an okay MP3 player, have a decent enough screen that reading ebooks isn't torture and best of yet be connectable to an external keyboard so it could be used as a highly portable "writing device".

I'm suspicious of Ericsson simply because every phone of theirs I've ever owned totally and completely sucked, which I thought left me with Nokia. However CharlieStross's musings about the Treo 600 has had me thinking. Today in a flash of insight I realized why it's so appealing.

Palm OS is a *platform*. I can build up and customize my environment in Palm OS to do what I want. When bigger, better hardware comes along I can move my environment to the new hardware with a minimum of fuss. Not only is Palm OS a platform but it's a reasonably *open* platform with lots of SDK's and fairly standard hardware API's for buying add ons. From a PDA perspective the cell phone market is still in extreme flux, applications only work on certain releases of certain phones from certain manufacturers and environments are in no way portable or expected to be backwards compatible.

I'm not sure the Treo is the device for me, but something like Palm OS is making more and more sense.

Treat Us Like 13 Year Olds

QuinnNorton's notes on TimOreilly's keynote at the 2004 EmergingTechnology conference. I wish I was there ...

  • tim o'reilly keynote, 2/10/04 having seen a few of tim o'reilly's keynotes i get the feeling that he throws conferences to get thousands of people working on the technologies he really wants. if tim really wanted a jet car, he'd throw a conference, invite some jet car enthusiasts and talk about how great it would be to have a jet car and then sit back and wait for someone to build him a jet car. it's like the peter lynch investing philosophy in reverse: instead of investing in the things you use everyday, get other people to invest in the things you wish you had everyday. in that spirit he gave us some new homework. he wants to see social software integrated into the "killer apps" of the net. he makes an excellent point about social software itself not necessarily being all that, but the features of social software are combined with existing major apps, amazing and fun things happen. he wants the full suite of social software features to be plugged into all the apps he uses. especially under osx- tim has a mac. he gave a great example of garage band not having an easy way of sharing user created files. once he mentions it, it's a no-brainer, but until then i hadn't really thought about it. he does seem to suggest that social software features should be so integral they should be as fundamental a part of the ide as the radio button, and he's probably right. he likes orkut more than me, but tim has always been moderate and forgiving and positive, which are excellent qualities in one of the "elders" of the community. if tim ever got his proverbial jet car and stopped asking us to make stuff for him it would be a great loss to the high tech community. he has a wonderful eye for possibilities. oh, and the "google adwords market" was frickin cool. he touched on hardware hacking, but without quite as much coherence. he likes hardware, but more seems to wait to be surprised than to be outlining what he wants his cell phone/battlebot/personal servant to do. o'reilly puts on a good conference. i have a theory of why- they keep things immature. i've done sessions teaching adults. adults are cool, calm, and assume you know what you are doing or that you're a bullshit artist. a good adult audience never takes its attention off you. but then, i've also done sessions with kids. my favorite are the 13 year olds. the early cynics, they've figured out that most of school is a waste of time. but then if you can just grab them, just get them excited about something, they forget you. they suddenly release all this energy at a subject, and often see their own insights as amazing. it's rare that they are right, but then again they only have to be right once to make a life out of an idea. you know what makes your conferences good, tim? we all act like 13 year olds. show me, make me care, and when you do, i'll care so much, and i'll believe that i can revolutionize the field. we are hanging on the edge of our own abilities. we don't know what we're doing, and we're not talking bullshit, but we may be wrong. but then we only have to be right once.

    ...

Play To Your Strengths

BrianAlvey writes "Everything I Need To Know About Web Design I Learned Watching Oz".

  • Every week or two I get email from someone asking me how they can get ahead in the web business. I assume it’s because they’ve already written someone else, but they didn’t get a response quickly enough and some college admissions deadline is looming. So I tell them this: Cheat. Stack the deck in your favor. Use your own unique skills to compete on the web. If you’re a shoe salesperson and you want to break into the web game, don’t start out as a novice Java developer competing with expert Java developers. Unless you have some latent mutant ability that will help you scale Java’s steep learning curves, you’ll be crushed. Instead, take on a sales role for a small web shop somewhere and pick the brains of the rest of the team to get up to speed on what can and can’t be done on the web. Don’t start out on the bottom. Start out as high up as you can and make lateral career moves. I’ll never be the best artist or the best programmer in a room full of web designers, but I’m pretty well rounded. So if I’m competing with creative people, I try to beat them technically. Likewise, if I’m competing with technical people, I do my best to pound them on the creative side. In Oz, the people who rose to power were the ones who made the best use of their unique talents and attributes.

    ...

TikiWiki Incorporates MapServer4

The latest release of TikiWiki has embedded support for MapServer 4 and could be useful for community mapping projects. I haven't looked too deeply at exactly what functionality is included but it will be interesting to see where they go with this.

I've been keeping my eye on Tiki for quite as while as they have been under going incredibly aggressive release cycles for over a year. It's impressive what they've done in such a short about of time. I've never dug in because initially I was put off by a CMS that kept it's documentation in PDF and the fact that it's ugly. It might be time to reinvestigate.

See also: WikiSoftware, GisResources

Visited Countries Map

colormap?visited=AUBECAFRDELUANNZWSCHUKUS&foo

Visited 12 countries (5%)

The Weakness of Selective Breeding

Teresa and I have been almost ready to get a dog for quite a while. Over the years we've fallen in love with many of our friends dogs but have always been put off by the commitment. Even children start going to school after five years and can move countries without being quarantined for six months!

A couple of years ago we were at Greater Trumps in PortlandOregon hanging out and having some late night beers with friends. Sitting at the bar, on a bar stool, was a gigantic BullDog. For several hours he just sat there next to his owner, seemingly without a concern in the world. Now that's a fucking dog we all thought.

Yesterday, while reading through "All About Your First Bulldog" I discovered that due to their body shape, Bulldogs cannot clean their own genitals. One of your responsibilities as their caretaker is to "gently wash their genitals with a moist towel".

Repeat after me, "I will not buy a dog that can't lick it's own ass".

Leap Day

  • To Whomever is in Charge of This Kind of Stuff: Let’s begin by stating the obvious: Leap Day should be a holiday. I mean, come on: That pretty much goes without saying. It’s not even a real day. It’s like some kind of extra-dimensional day from the Phantom Zone that only phases into Earth Prime every four years. It’s a 100 percent free 24 hours, and employers should have no claim to it. Getting stuck working on Feb. 29 is like finding five bucks on a playground and having it immediately expropriated by a passing bully. Okay, sure, 2/29 is a Sunday this year – you’ve got me there. But that won’t always be the case: Sooner or later it’s going to fall on a weekday, I think. Maybe not. I don’t really feel like doing the math. But in any case – and in keeping with America’s new doctrine of preemption – the time to act is now. It’s like Bush said in the 2002 State of the Union address: ‘I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer.

    ...

Beat This

I promise it isn't photoshop.

One Thousand Pages

I got an email from BenEisenbraun today pointing me at the SystemInfo page. Turns out I nearly missed that this very page will be the 1000th page added to www.spack.org. Thanks to everyone who's contributed, enjoyed and offered encouragement, and a special thanks to the crew who have worked so hard on MoinMoin for so long. Ya'll rock.

Update: Of course shortly after posting this message I copied over all the latest HelpOn... files from the latest CVS of MoinMoin so there were 30 more pages. Ah well, who cares anyway :-)

Managing Photos

I've been hunting around for quite a while looking for a good system to manage my ever growing collection of photographs. There are a lot of okay solutions but more or less everything I've found either doesn't solve the problems I want solved or is incredibly buggy and incomplete. Finally today I found something that at least doesn't suck.

Thanks to an anonymous comment on my GallerySoftware page I saw this:

  • Gallery - MySql or BerkleyDB (may work from flat files, I think.) . Includes a neat .reg file that adds it to Windows XP's "publish this folder" task pane.

I've played with Gallery many times in the past but always moved away from it because required MySql, was really ugly, wasn't themable and a number of othe gripes. However Gallery is the piece of OpenSource GallerySoftware, has a long history of steadily improving and has a wide enough following that it will probably never die.

So I installed it and started playing and discovered that most of my gripes and wishes had been addressed, and the few remaining were on the roadmap.

Then I found the wiki page listing other methods of uploading pictures to Gallery. Specifically iPhotoToGallery grabbed my eye.

What all of this means is that I now have a bearable workflow for dealing with my photos:

  1. Take pictures.
  2. Upload to my iBook via USB to iPhoto (note iPhoto4 is finally worth using).

  3. Delete, rate, crop, fix, categorize in iPhoto.
  4. Export from iPhoto into Gallery running on my home server.
  5. Mirror via Gallery's built in support for remote mirrors (and rsync) to my main server in the states.
  6. Allow people to view, rate and comment on photos there.

This takes care of pretty much everything but the nicities. The remaining wishlist items would be:

  • Support for EXIF Captions (so I can caption photos in iPhoto and have them move to gallery.
  • Syncing support between iPhoto and Gallery (so changes to Gallery could be propogated back into iPhoto).
  • Read/write support for EXIF/IPTC fields so that comments, ratings and keywords added to the web gallery get stored into the image. This is important if I ever decide to use another piece of software then Gallery (see AlexKing's blog post on the subject).

  • Support for matching iPhoto ratings to Gallery ratings.
  • Some form of dynamic categorization based on IPTC keywords/categories.

Song Buddy

While reading the best critique of Orkut to date, I learned about a similar project called SongBuddy. SongBuddy is interesting for two things, first it has a purpose and second it claims to allow you to import and export your friend profies as FOAF (FriendOfaFriend) files. While it's purpose is boring to me I'm very interested in a service that allows me to import and export *my* social network information in a usable format.

Unfortunately I don't have any friends on this system, so if someone would take a moment and sign up I'd like to see how this works (my username is "adamshand").

Paytrust (nee PayMyBills)

Frustrated by my inability to cancel my PayMyBills account I sent them an email asking how to do so. Here is the email I got and my response.

> For your security, we will only provide email support to the e-mail 
> address located within your PMB Paytrust Bill Center.
> Please resubmit your request by e-mailing your issue through that
> e-mail address or by logging in to your PMB Paytrust Bill Center and 
> submitting your request through the "Contact Us" tab on the left.  We
> were not able to locate your account with the e-mail address provided. 

I've updated my account to have this email address, now please answer my question on how to cancel my account.

For the record the primary reason I'm canceling my service is because the service has become gradually and significantly worse since it was purchased by Paytrust. In the last year it has finally become more of a hassle to interact with your service then the joy it once was, and the only reason I've remained a customer this long is that to my knowledge no one else offers the service you do.

If there is anyone left at Paytrust who actually cares about your customers please feel free to pass this on.

  • The fact that there is no prominent link on your site explaining how to cancel your service is ridiculous and unprofessional. The fact that it's *nowhere* on your site is unforgivable.
  • Requiring that I send email from my registered email account is stupid. Don't get me wrong I appreciate strong security policies from a company that deals with my finances, however this policy does nothing to enhance security. Since I can send email as anyone, and anyone can send email as me, I sincerely hope that you have other policies which might actually protect my privacy. Further in this particular case, answering my question about how to cancel my account could have been provided without risk to anyone's privacy.
  • As I suspect most of your customers are, I'm a pretty busy guy, the reason I pay you is to save myself hassle. That I'm irritated enough to spend a chunk of time writing to you should give you a hint as to how annoying your service has become. Irritating your customers isn't typically considered "good business practice".
  • Your "Smart Balance" feature which allows me to reconcile my outstanding bills with my primary checking account has worked less and less often over the years. It's an important part of your service which I've come to rely on, having it constantly broken is tragic.
  • Your customer service is slow to answer questions (I've waited over three days for a response) and typically provides useless and bureaucratic answers. I've come to avoid emailing them simply because it's total hassle actually getting any help. Your phone support isn't much better and is harder to get ahold of.
  • When you started to encourage electronic payments you removed my ability to pay by paper when I want to. Paying by paper is useful on occasion because I like not actually receiving the paper bills at my home and I dislike the electronic invoices that I get instead of the scans of electronic ones.
  • You're ignored (not even responded to let alone actually implement) all of my emails which either reported bugs or had suggestions of how to improve the service you offered.
  • You've been promising "exciting new changes" for a long time with no actual evidence of anything getting better.

ConvertFS

Badass ...

  • This simple toolset allows you to change type of file system in the lack of backup space. You can convert from virtually any filesystem type to virtually any one as long as they are both block-oriented and supported by Linux for read/write, and as long as primary filesystem supports sparse files.

Bummer

Update: The doctors took off my cast yesterday, did another set of xrays and told me my wrist almost certainly wasn't broken (just sprained really badly) and to let them know if it was still hurting in another week or two. It was refreshingly pleasant to go to the hopital twice and not have to deal with a bill at the end of it or a single insurance company. Two cheers for public health care systems.

Saying Yes

Via the EmptyBottle, but from an interview with DaveEggers:

  • The thing is, I really like saying yes. I like new things, projects, plans, getting people together and doing something, trying something, even when it's corny or stupid. I am not good at saying no. And I do not get along with people who say no. When you die, and it really could be this afternoon, under the same bus wheels I'll stick my head if need be, you will not be happy about having said no. You will be kicking your ass about all the no's you've said. No to that opportunity, or no to that trip to Nova Scotia or no to that night out, or no to that project or no to that person who wants to be naked with you but you worry about what your friends will say. No is for wimps. No is for pussies. No is to live small and embittered, cherishing the opportunities you missed because they might have sent the wrong message. There is a point in one's life when one cares about selling out and not selling out. One worries whether or not wearing a certain shirt means that they are behind the curve or ahead of it, or that having certain music in one's collection means that they are impressive, or unimpressive. Thankfully, for some, this all passes. I am here to tell you that I have, a few years ago, found my way out of that thicket of comparison and relentless suspicion and judgment. And it is a nice feeling. Because, in the end, no one will ever give a shit who has kept shit 'real' except the two or three people, sitting in their apartments, bitter and self-devouring, who take it upon themselves to wonder about such things. The keeping real of shit matters to some people, but it does not matter to me. It's fashion, and I don't like fashion, because fashion does not matter.

    What matters is that you do good work. What matters is that you produce things that are true and will stand. What matters is that the Flaming Lips's new album is ravishing and I've listened to it a thousand times already, sometimes for days on end, and it enriches me and makes me want to save people. What matters is that it will stand forever, long after any narrow-hearted curmudgeons have forgotten their appearance on goddamn 90210. What matters is not the perception, nor the fashion, not who's up and who's down, but what someone has done and if they meant it. What matters is that you want to see and make and do, on as grand a scale as you want, regardless of what the tiny voices of tiny people say. Do not be critics, you people, I beg you. I was a critic and I wish I could take it all back because it came from a smelly and ignorant place in me, and spoke with a voice that was all rage and envy. Do not dismiss a book until you have written one, and do not dismiss a movie until you have made one, and do not dismiss a person until you have met them. It is a fuckload of work to be open-minded and generous and understanding and forgiving and accepting, but Christ, that is what matters. What matters is saying yes."

Migration

We're back from holidays, and settling back into work and life in Wellington. Teresa's work permit arrived shortly before we left and when we got back there was a notice saying that her residency permit had been approved and all we have to do is pay some more money and jump around in front of the trained monkeys.

The server that hosts this site has been migrated to a brand spanking new (well kinda) box hosted by PdxColo. I was one of their first beta customers and I must say that I'm very impressed both witih their service and generally friendly and efficient attitude. So if you want a root on a colocated box without the hassle of managing hardware ... look them up.

Hopefully the migration will cause a minimum of trouble.

Holidays

Yesterday we went to the "Return of the King" cast and crew screening, it was pretty damn cool. Sadly I think the opening scene and the ending scenes were the weakest but overall I'm incredibly proud to have been able to contribute towards the trilogy. The visual effects were mind blowing, especially the Pelennor Fields battle scenes.

Tomorrow morning Teresa and I, along with my new best friend, rise at seven am to board the Lynx and head towards Nelson. After a couple days kayaking around AbelTasman National Park we head south for Teresa's first ever summer christmas.

A week or so with family and friends and we're off again up the west coast (via the MoerakiBoulders and the "new big mall" in ChristchurchNewZealand) until we end up in NelsonNewZealand and possibly Takaka and Golden Bay to catch up with friends. Finally home to relax for a few days before back to work on the 12th.

See ya soon.

New ... Favorite ... Picture ...

http://adam.shand.net/gallery/albums/200311-rotk_stuff/

Teresa says I only like it cause her tongue is "moist" ...

Doubt

  • "I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong." -- RichardFeynman

JonathonDelacour writes about information overload. The inspiration for my IntelligentAgent piece was similar, just not as good as I have a hard time directing it with a steady hand.

Practice, practice, practice ...

The Slammer

Sorry for the intrusion folks but I've locked down the site to read only until the current kiddies get over the kick of "cracking" a publicly editable site.

I'm playing with MoinMoin's AccessControlList system so I may of fubar'd something. If you would really like access let me know and I should be able to grant you access.

Hopefully things will be back to normal soon.

Squeaky Clean

I've been through so many iterations of experimentation with categorizing this wiki that I've been left with a bit of a cesspool. As I prepare to work on the navigation and look and feel of this site I figure it's about time I actually cleaned it all up a bit. The first step was to make a decision about what categories should actually exist. The next step was to consolidate all the spurious categories into their correct pages, and finally to jump into a mini regex-hell and cleap up all my inconsistant syntax that I've used over the years.

So after much perl -pi -e 's/xxx/yyy/g' * in my wiki source directory I believe there is now one true categorization scheme. Hopefully it makes more sense to everyone ... especially myself.

Note to self, when in doubt remember: WorseIsBetter.

There Be Days, and Days

Starts off with swinging by the local church christmas fair just in time to see Santa arrive by chopper for all the kiddies. Guess in lieu of raindeer that's not a bad hack.

Then downtown to the ren fair which, nicely timed to coincide with the LotR premier weekend, was packed with tourists, rings geeks and the always present "fair people". Then rollerblading down the parade and water from (BTW, waterfront of downtown WellingtonNewZealand is a mecca for blading, nothing really challenging but lots of cruising fun).

After the exercice we had beers in the sun listening to the local latin scenes drum music and salsa dancing, and now finally more wedding planning and watching "Traffic" on TV. NewZealand consistantly has suprisingly good movies on the weekends.

I feel that we've covered all the bases for today. Tomorrow we get to be one of the cool kids and hang out across from the Embassy Theatre at our own private Weta party watching the stars arrive.

Celebrity Skin

Teresa gets to hang with Elijah Wood. Apparently I'm expendable. :-)

Please, someone make the hangover go away.

Gonzo Theology

From a link my sister sent me via email years ago which has been sitting in my inbox invoking vague pangs of guilt and curiosity ever since.

  • Worship without sacrifice. One of MahatmaGandhi's "Seven Blunders of the World". Worship without sacrifice. People are afraid of sacrifice, these days. So many bad sacrifices were made in the past. But it's necessary, you see? To keep the balance. We're going to go too far to the other side, the boat will tip again. Worship without sacrifice. Religion without sacrifice. There must be sacrifice. A price must be paid. Spirituality absolutely must involve a cost, and the cost must be high.

    A religion or path which demands no sacrifice is going to end up as a cancer. You'll only get sick if you live off Snickers bars and McDonalds. A religion or path which demands some sacrifice is better. True religion, though, demands everything. Not only to give up what one has, but to give up what one is. My life for Aiur.

    But don't give up thinking. Not for a good long fucken while, and you'll know for certain when you have to. For certain. Cults feed off people who trade in their intellect for beliefs and security.

    Source: http://www.gonzotheology.com/stories.php?story=02/07/21/0954436

Is sacrifice the only way to prove conviction?

Hardware. Lots And Lots Of Hardware.

This article in WiredMagazine is actually not entirely correct but since I don't know what I'm allowed to comment on and what I'm not I shall just let it stand. Regardless it's not far from the mark.

Lest you gloss over it as you scan the numbers, make sure you notice the use of the prefix "peta".

HUMANPOWER

  • IT staff: 35
  • Visual f/x staff: 420

HARDWARE

  • Equipment rooms: 5
  • Desktop computers: 600
  • Servers in renderwall: 1,600
  • Processors (total): 3,200
  • Processors added 10 weeks before movie wrapped: 1,000
  • Time it took to get additional processors up and running: 2 weeks
  • Network switches: 10
  • Speed of network: 10 gigabits (100 times faster than most)
  • Temperature of equipment rooms: 76 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Weight of air conditioners needed to maintain that temperature: 1/2 ton

STORAGE

  • Disk: 60 terabytes
  • Near online: 72 terabytes
  • Digital backup tape: 0.5 petabyte (equal to 50,000 DVDs)

OUTPUT

  • Number of f/x shots: 1,400
  • Minimum number of frames per shot: 240
  • Average time to render one frame: 2 hours
  • Longest time: 2 days
  • Total screen time of f/x shots: 2 hours
  • Total length of film: Rumored to be 3.5 hours
  • Production time: 9 months

Source: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/11.12/play.html?pg=2

Fighting My Natural Tendancies

I've been fighting my natural tendancies recently, instead of spending a chunk of my daily time investigating random interesting things I've been spending my time working hard at working for the man. The film is over, the artists are gone, I have my crew gear and my free loot ... it's time to earn my keep. There be LDAP in them hills.

Recently I've swapped over to a G4 at work, my conversion to AppleOsx is nearing complete. I'm learning to love and loath it, somehow that's okay. Or perhaps it's just familiar ...

I've got some more bad pictures to post from GuyFawkes. People keep making random comments about how much they like my pictures and it's hard to discern the flattery from the honest appreciation. It may just be fear as I have a dream of collecting a life time of pictures and publishing them with short stories attached. The whole purist attitude that good pictures shouldn't require explaination annoys me, I always want to know why the child is smiling or how the photographer got to know the family or where that lighthouse is. Context is a beautiful thing.

We went and looked at a house for rent with some friends. We didn't end up taking it but ohmyfuckinggawd ... what a beautiful lot. Fifteen minutes from town, five minutes from work, nestled in under the trees with a magnificent deck and hot tub that looks out over the trees to the ocean. When I say ocean I don' t mean it in the real estate vaguely see it on the horizon kinda way, I mean it in the down the hill and over the road drowning in the waves sorta ocean. I was consumed with lust for about 24 hours until I realized that I don't want to rent that house, I want to own that house. Then I got depressed, I never have been good about wanting things I can't have.

Oh, and I see Tara has a blog, don't worry girl, the first post is the strangest.

More Then Long Enough

Source: http://www.ucomics.com/foxtrot/2003/11/05/

FHS 2.3: Addition of /srv and /media

The DebianWeeklyNews reports that the new version of the FilesystemHierarchyStandard is proposing the addition of /srv and /media as top level directories. It seems that /srv (for service I assume) is designed to take over from /var as the official place for human generated application data (eg. /srv/cvsroot, /srv/www, /srv/ftp) while /media takes over from /mnt as the place where you mount removable media (eg. /media/cdrom, /media/floppy).

I'm ambivalent about /media (and dislike the name) but /srv would be a wonderful addition, please yes! Now I can finally put the horrible /opt, /var, /usr/local mess to be and dedicate all my spare drive space to /srv instead of /var where there's contention when /var/log blows out. Of course it does introduce some possible big changes, do /var/mail and /var/spool/lpd migrate to /srv? Or what about /var/spool/cron? Or are those "not human generated" enough?

The New Look Isn't Complete

So, unless you've never been here before you'll notice that there is a prominent new feature. A persistent side bar on the left which contains some useful links. This has been something I've wanted of MoinMoin for a long time because from watching the PersonalTelco access logs it became apparent that people would arrive at our wiki via a link or search engine, read the page and then leave because they had no idea what we were about or how to find anything. Sadly both of my previous attempts were only marginally sucessful, however this hack for the DRSRM site by ReimerBehrends is wonderful, and I hope it will help visitors get oriented much faster. If you are interested in playing with it you can find more information on the MoinMoin SkinMarket page.

As I rarely have the hours to spend dinking with the nicities of this site in one chunk I've decided to do a MarkPilgrim style redesign, which means you all get to watch the good and the bad as it progreses. Please bear with me as I experiment and please feel free to comment.

You may have also noticed that on the main ThinkingSpace page there were new posts appearing from BrettShand as well as myself. This was part of a new experiment at combining blogs on the front page, a very small scale communal blog aggregator. Sadly the current method I use to include blog entries means that they end up getting included by name rather then date ... so Brett's posts were slowly pushing mine out. I'll be working on a proper solution to this, in the mean time I've reverted it back to just my posts (sorry Dad!).

A New Blog

So I've been helping my dad setup a blog like mine on spack.org, you can see the beginings of it on the BrettSpace page. So far it has seemed to be fairly easy and he's made his first post! Now I'm trying to aggregate my posts and his posts on the front ThinkingSpace page but I suspect there is going to be an ordering problem. We'll see how it progresses.

UPDATE: Yes it does indeed appear that the decending sort that I do via the Include Macro means that all of Brett's entries appear before mine, regardless of date. This means that I'll now need to do this properly by building a combined calendar and then using a modified version of the IncludeCalendarPage macro (see macro/IncludeCalendarPage.py).

Guy Fawkes Day

GuyFawkes (the only man ever to enter English Parliament with honest intentions) had his day yesterday. Fireworks were required.

Thanks to SimonBurrow for the pictures.

IPTC Meta Data

If you go to CSOF you'll find a picture with a caption that I posted to the site. The picture is silly and not important, what is important is that the caption (the expensive human generated part of the MetaData) is stored inside the image itself using the IPTC comment field. Instead of having to redo my comments each time I change GallerySoftware I can now annotate my pictures once and be done with it. This is of course assuming that the chosen software supports IPTC comments, which (for reasons that totally baffle me) almost none of them do.

You will notice however, that Drupal, the software that powers CSOF, does support this, which means that they rule. Or more to the point I rule for arranging for Moshe to be paid to incorporate IPTC support into the Drupal image module. :-? Sadly this support is read only so any changes made to the caption after the initial import are not written back into the image.

Now, I still need to do something about that MoinMoin powered GallerySoftware ...

SMTP Authentication

During a conversation with the ShmooGroup I wrote up this explaination of the various options for providing SSL or authentication options to SMTP services. Currently there are three "official" ways of doing this:

SMTPS

Lives on port 465 and only supports SMTP over SSL connections. I typically provide this on my mail servers via inetd/stunnel as a way to get around providers who block port 25 to stop spammers. I don't worry about SmtpAuth because as of yet the spammers haven't discovered this (note: if you are setting up a server I don't recommend this as I have a feeling this easy option is about to end). However assuming you have a an SMTP daemon listening on port 25 you can set this up with a one liner in /etc/inetd.conf:

ssmtp   stream  tcp nowait root   /usr/sbin/stunnel stunnel -n smtp -r localhost:smtp

STARTTLS

Works on port 25 as an extension to the SMTP protocol. It allows SMTP clients to negotiate an encrypted session by issuing the STARTTLS command at the beginning of a normal SMTP session. This was the "right" way to do it until providers started blocking port 25 willy nilly as a way of blocking spammers.

MSA/SUBMISSION

The new "right" way is to use the MSA (Mail Submission Agent?) on port 587, and most modern MTA's support it out of the box. MSA is an attempt to separate client-to-server SMTP from server-to-server SMTP. In the new model clients should only talk to servers via port 587 with STARTTLS/SmtpAuth support. This leaves port 25 relegated to server-to-server communications. The advantage of this is that port 25 can have facisist restrictions on who it will send mail for.

Wireless Access Control

Thanks to a query by a friend at work I've just updated my WirelessAccessControl piece. Please feel free to fix it, improve it or share it with others.

Tractor Rain

Simon, an old friend who just recently moved back to NewZealand from LondonEngland, was playing with one of my favorite pictures in PhotoShop.

I like it, it reminds me of something from a FrankMiller comic (and Teresa of an A-Ha video).

STFW Newbie

Adam, why are you called Larry?

STFW newbie ...

Foo Camp

DannyObrien, who kindly put me up at the last O'Reilly EmergingTechnology conference, writes about O'Reilly FooCamp in the latest NTK (NeedToKnow), his comment about the WiFi folks sounds soooo familiar :-). I'm pretty jealous I didn't get to attend (StupidStupid WetaDigital) but I guess we can't have everything now can we ...

  • In between the sex orgies, the guzzling of live bunnies, and the dance around the pyre of a giant DaveWiner shaped "Wiki Man" (joke (c) AndrewOrlowski, cheers kthx), it was a weekend of high-achievement dossing at the notorious O'REILLY FOO CAMP. Bram "BitTorrent" Cohen, having solved content distribution, announced he was now tackling other simple problems: reputation systems, version control and perhaps after lunch the NP-complete set. Reserving enough brainpower for this unfortunately involved forgetting his own birthday, which unbeknownst to him, was on Sunday. Similar problems beleaguered Gnome wunderkind NatFriedman, who almost absent-mindedly flew to the wrong city. Elsewhere on the stumbling edge, the geolocation folk led by Joshua "Memepool" Schachter and the RFID/barcodians led by MSFTian MarcSmith, struggled to either locate or track good solutions to their biggest bugbear - the hoarding of databases like the UPC and the Ordnance Survey. The WiFi-folk, glad to find a venue where they weren't asked to fall off roofs while troubleshooting everyone's connectivity, mainly got drunk. Above it all, there was a strong sense of handing-off-the-torch across the generations. Although with Bob "Visicalc" Frankston outtalking everyone 4:1, KevinKelly compelling gentle BrianBehlendorf to teach him how to DJ, and Jaron Lanier - yes, Jaron "bloody" Lanier - somehow coming from behind to outdo everyone with an avatar system that dynamically aped your every facial expression via a Webcam... it wasn't entirely clear which direction that torch was going.

In Memory

Morgan Morgan

  • There’s nothing I love more than hearing, watching, or reading someone doing the one thing they can’t not do. -- Mark Pilgrim

I met Morgan in the halls of InternetAlaska, I met him because he was one of the first people to approach me in open friendship as I was shyly exploring the new people and places I'd plunged myself into with my rash move. Over the years he was the person I could talk unrepentant smack to, who I could dream with, who always had a story of stupidity and excitement, who would always revel in sin with anyone who was game.

Sometimes I wanted to punch him, I probably did a couple of times. He had no concept of boundaries, no idea how to respect his friends and was petty and childish when things didn't go his way. I threw him out of my house, I screamed at him for borrowing my car, I made him cry because he wouldn't live up to my expectations.

There were times I didn't want to be around him, but I always believed in him. I believed in his good heart and raw talent. I wanted to walk into a random bar and see him on stage performing. I wanted to look up one day and see his name in the paper as the draw for a book signing, for writing the new controversial screenplay. I don't think I ever expected to see him happy but I hoped to see him proud.

More then anyone else I know, Morgan did the things he couldn't not do.

Love.

Lost in Translation on the Raven

  • Until this a man is not twenty five years old, of that they always think d, everything very frequently, in a position to be in the good circumstances he more when motherfucker, that he is baddest of the world more. If muovessi of I with the members martial, those in applicable hard monastry and is studied it of China during the 10 years. If my family of the valves of slidegate of the drug of the Kolumbianer is eliminated and the oath of me comes me. If you she took them with a mortal disease, an anniversary it had that living he retirement that the crime on the dedicated way. If you stop to exempt the relative fair seriously and to dedicate my life. Hiro nevertheless thought that this way on the other hand that then has made to work in Raven. In a determined free direction, of which it must evaluate more around if, it is more when motherfucker, this is baddest of the world more. The position becomes examinación.

Source: http://www.tashian.com/multibabel/

RATS!

Teresa had this to say to her mother ...


This morning....I woke to discover numerous, large "droppings" in our kitchen. I have to tell you, that I am TERRIFIED of mice, let alone the size of mouse that could produce such large fecal matter. So I was calmed momentarily by this fact that it wasn't mice, because the poo was much too large. Seeing this, our very amused male house-guest pointed out that this poo (plural) was much too large to be your average mouse, and then pointedly asked me what I thought was bigger than a mouse. My first thought was "ooh, rabbits!". Our other female house-guest took the bait as well and piped in "ooh, a hedge-hog....no. a kitten!" This is certainly a fun game, guessing what is bigger than a mouse. But our male house-guest shook his head in pity, as he stared in disbelief at the retarded females standing before him. So, our male house-guest asked once again....more directly this time, "what is bigger than a mouse?" This time, my cohort in the guessing game earlier, shot me a look that *she* had it figured out....and wondered if it was a good idea to tell me. That look is what finally jogged my brain...."well that would be ra"....."RATS!!!!" "RATS!!!!" I have been in hysterics all day. I've never quite understood the phrase "beside oneself", but I get it now. I mostly kept it together until I called Adam because our male house-guest could not find our intruders. I actually started crying as I was explaining to Adam the enormity of this situation, let alone the enormity of the poo (plural mind you) on our kitchen floor. I vaguely remember babbling something about "the plague", and Adam said he would come home to assist. One thing I learned from this is people find other people's phobias extremely amusing. I do not. I learned this as our very entertained exterminator just left....he even managed to throw in some blonde jokes for good measure. This was after a box tipped over in the laundry room, and I just about shit myself (in case the tone doesn't let on....I am a bit "edgy" at this point). I don't know why it's so funny when someone has a completely irrational terror of rodents. Adam did his best to maintain order and have me focus on the task at hand. Hysterical girlfriends I can imagine are quite terrifying in their own right. But nothing could protect me from the giggles, and quite honestly, belly laughs that were directed at my behaviour. So now it's up to me to decide if I can stay in the house, until the situation is resolved...which it is NOT resolved at this point. Our slack property manager is supposed to be coordinating getting a carpenter out here to fix the shoddy construction that is allowing these vile creatures into our living space. So I can do nothing but wait, and fret, and consider moving into a hotel. As I sit in our living room, re-counting these events, listening to a tall water glass in the background slowly fill with water, because we also have a leaky window, I am the first to admit, that this was not a good day.

We'll see what elements of danger tomorrow brings.

Marsh Arabs Return

I'm not entirely sure what it is, but something about the pictures here just renders me speachless ...

  • With the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, the marshes of southeastern Iraq have been returned to their natural state. During his presidency, Hussein had drained the wetlands to eliminate a hiding place for Shiite Muslims. Now, after engineers have re-flooded the area, the Marsh Arabs have returned home to reclaim their lives and their culture.

    Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A10572-2003Oct10.html



See also: AdamShand/2003-04-19

The Movers

Are here.

More correctly, they will be here shortly. I'm at work (trying to wrap up LDAP hell) waiting for the call from Teresa to rush home and herd our fourty-eight boxes into their appropriate rooms like recalcitrant cattle.

I Had A Dream

I was swimming through a reef in tropical paradise, and starving.

Everywhere I looked there were beautiful fish, swimming between my legs through my fingers, but only a specific type of fish would satiate my hunger. I was searching for a LdapClient fish. Everytime I reached down and seized a fish there was a promising name emblazoned on its side. awebDAP, phpldapadmin, ldapexplorer, ldapbrowser ... yet always upon closer inspection it was rotting, falling apart ... poisonous.

I kept swimming, frantically looking for a fish that would satisfy. Picking up rotting, disgusting fish ... faster and faster, nowhere was a decent LdapClient fish to be found. I was surrounded by fish, yet starving.

Learned Response

I've always had a hard time getting up in the morning. When I was 19, unemployed and sleeping way too much, I learned that the best way to make myself wake up was to roll over and start reading. The prospect of getting up was too much for my half-awake brain, but it could be lured into reading a book which would shortly lead to being fully awake.

Today I learned a simpler way, just open your eyes. When the alarm clock goes off, open your eyes. Keep your eyes open for five minutes, and you're awake. That's all it takes.

Interview with Robert Anton Wilson

From an old inverview with RobertAntonWilson, the author of the "Illuminatus" trilogy ...

  • Well, the Illuminati was a secret society in Bavaria in the 18th Century. A certain number of paranoid individuals believe the Illuminati still exists and has either taken over the world, or taken over most of the world, or something like that. I discovered the anti-Illuminati literature in the late 60's when there were all sorts of weird conspiracy theories going around. And then I discovered there were two ambiguities connected with the Illuminati. First, there are those who say the Illuminati don't exist, versus those who say the Illuminati still exist, and then among those who say the Illuminati do exist, there are two schools of thought: those who claim they're the arch-villains of all history, and those who claim they're the heroes who are trying to liberate the human race from superstition and ignorance. And so, I decided a group that ambiguous, where we don't know whether they exist or not, and we don't know whether they're the good guys or the bad guys, they're the perfect symbol, to me, for all the confusions of the age we're living through, and all of the rampant paranoia of our time. Conspiracy theories have never been more popular, not even in Nazi Germany.

  • .. The eye on top of the pyramid, let's start with, the eye on top of the pyramid represents the transcendental ego as distinguished from the normal ego. It represents your awareness of your role as an evolutionary agent with all past generations holding you up to the position you're in now. The pyramid represents all past generations and the open eye represents your realization of your oneness with all past generations, especially all past generations of magicians. Reality, as we call it, is the temporary resultant of continuous conflict between rival gangs of magicians and shamans. The eye in the triangle by itself represents the Eye of Horus. Horus is the lord of two horizons in Egyptian mythology; that means he's the lord of the rising and the setting son, birth and death, and all other opposites. War and meditation are two of his chief characteristics.
  • .. I think it's a great example of the evolutionary function of stupidity. When the government made psychedelic research illegal in the 60's, scientific, open above-board research I mean, that did not stop research, the research just went underground, together with a great deal of partying and hell-raising and whatnot with those drugs. I thought it was the stupidest thing the government ever did, but in retrospect I think stupidity has an evolutionary function, because when they stopped that research, all the leading researchers in the field went into other areas, and so we've discovered dozens of other ways of rapid brain change. Lilly worked on his isolation tank, others went into biofeedback. Stan Grof, who came to this country seeking scientific freedom because he felt he didn't have enough scientific freedom in Czechoslovakia, he came to this country seeking scientific freedom and they told him he couldn't do any more LSD research, so he went to work on breathing techniques and the effect of sound on the brain, and has developed some very interesting post-Reichian, post-yogic techniques of brain change. So, by and large, the stupider the establishment is, the smarter the rebels become. Establishment stupidity is the greatest spur to creativity in evolutionary history. That's why I think Reagan has been a godsend to this country. He's brought more stupidity to Washington than anybody in my lifetime, and there's been a tremendous upsurge of creativity while he's been in there.
  • .. I could talk all day about that! Joyce was more interested in synchronicity more than any other writer before me, and he influenced me a great deal. My fascination with synchronicity grows more out of Joyce than out of Jung. Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake are all about synchronicity, and they came out long before Jung ever wrote anything on the subject. Joyce fascinates me because of many other things. In Ulysses, he was the first one to write a relativistic novel, the first Einsteinian novel. Every other novel before Ulysses had one point of view, which was supposed to be the objective point of view, and in Ulysses, Joyce refuses to give you an objective point of view. He gives you about 54 different points of view, and leaves it up to you to decide which of the various narrative voices you're going to believe. And I find that a very appropriate style for the 20th Century, it's entirely compatible with relativity and quantum mechanics . . . the amount of deception and propaganda in the 20th Century world, where you can't take anything at face value. It's compatible with modern philosophy, everything from Nietzsche and Wittgenstein on, we've learned more and more about how the mind creates its own reality-tunnel; it's entirely compatible with modern psychology and neurology and cultural anthropology.
  • .. Yes, I got the idea from William Erwin Thompson, the anthropologist. He pronounces New Age as "Newage" so it rhymes with sewage. And I thought, boy there sure is enough of that around, isn't there, New Age sewage. Just because there's a slight chance people may not have read my other books, and may read The New Inquisition, and think I'm only against one type of fundamentalism, I decided to make the sequel to it, an attack on the imbeciles on the other side. And so, I'm going to tear into Ramtha and all these other sages who come back . . . the main thing Ramtha proves is you can be dead 40,000 years and still be a bore. That may be interesting news, but that's . . . Everything I've heard from Ramtha sounds like an editorial from the Reader's Digest in 1958 or something.
  • ..

    I regard that as a game rule of the Catholic game. If you want to play the Catholic game, you've got to accept that rule. Like if you want to play baseball, you've got to accept the rule of the umpire, who is considered infallible. I don't believe umpires or popes are de facto infallible, it's just a game rule. I choose not to play the Catholic game. I'd find myself terribly constricted to live in a world where some right-wing Polish schlimazel is supposed to be infallible. I'd sooner accept Randi as infallible than the Pope.

Source: http://www.nii.net/~obie/1988_interview.htm

Personal Information Store

I'm not entirely happy with the name but I've been doing more thinking about my PersonalDataRepository. This is the core idea that initially got me excited about the emerging category of InformationClient software, especially Chandler. The more I think about it though the more I think that "uber app" is a misguided approach, as it will get progressively harder to scale.

I really want to reuse as much existing software/infrastructure as possible, Apache, OpenLdap, TwistedPython, etc. We'll see if I make it beyond thinking and writing about it this time.

UPDATE: Renamed to from PersonalInformationStore to PersonalDataRepository, I liked sticking with the InformationClients meme but "PIS" wasn't working for me. ;)

Wellington Panoramas

I just created a new section of my picture gallery pages for panoramas. There's only two shots there right now but it'll grow. Especially if I get my new camera (yum!).

http://adam.shand.net/photos/panoramas/wellington_harbour_panorama?full=1

WellingtonNewZealand

http://adam.shand.net/photos/panoramas/weta_digital_manuka_st?full=1

The main WetaDigital Office

The Urban Geography of Digital Networks

AnthonyTownsend from NycWireless has published his Ph.D dissertation "Wired / Unwired: The Urban Geography of Digital Networks".

DarrinEden from PersonalTelco writes:

  • My favorite is of course chapter seven "Policy, Planning, and Design for the Digitally Networked City" containing the awesome line... "This dissertation recommends devolving some of the authority to regulate telecommunications infrastructure to the local level."

Places Not To Be

Source unknown.

Diamond Wiki

Bookmark Management

SiteBar rules! I've been waiting for something like this to emerge ever since the MozillaProject deemed roaming profiles not worth supporting. The only bummer is that it uses MySql ... ugg.

When Blogs Work Best

I love this. BoingBoing lead me to an article about JoelOnSoftware's new bionic office. This was a great article about how Joel had designed his companies new office space to be both sexy and functional for programmers. His list of requirements was quite good:

  1. Private offices with doors that close were absolutely required and not open to negotiation.
  2. Programmers need lots of power outlets. They should be able to plug new gizmos in at desk height without crawling on the floor.
  3. We need to be able to rewire any data lines (phone, LAN, cable TV, alarms, etc.) easily without opening any walls, ever.
  4. It should be possible to do pair programming.
  5. When you're working with a monitor all day, you need to rest your eyes by looking at something far away, so monitors should not be up against walls.
  6. The office should be a hang out: a pleasant place to spend time. If you're meeting your friends for dinner after work you should want to meet at the office. As Philip Greenspun bluntly puts it: "Your business success will depend on the extent to which programmers essentially live at your office. For this to be a common choice, your office had better be nicer than the average programmer's home. There are two ways to achieve this result. One is to hire programmers who live in extremely shabby apartments. The other is to create a nice office."

One of the clever things that his architect did was design all of the offices so that they have light on two sides of the room. This lead me to the Pattern Language page which in turn lead me to discover "A Timeless Way of Building", "A Pattern Language" and "The Oregon Experiment" all by ChristopherAlexander.

All of which makes me think that I should have stuck with my childhood dream of becomming an architect and makes me dream of building actual physical things again instead of building invisible links between binary objects.

Which reminds me, it's time to buy a house.

Reconciling Sensuality and Safety

From AlterNet ...

  • There's a powerful tendency in long-term relationships to favor the predictable over the unpredictable. Erotic passion is defiant and unpredictable, unruly and undependable – which leaves many people feeling separate and vulnerable. As Stephen Mitchell, a New York analyst, used to say, "It is not that romance fades over time. It becomes riskier." Challenging the idea that security is inside the relationship and adventure outside means pointing out that the familiarity we seek to impose on the other kills desire. What would happen if we allowed ourselves to see our partner from a distance, with a wide-angle lens instead of a zoom? Of course, that distance isn't without risk: It also means stepping back from the comfort of our partner and being more alone. Maybe the real paradox is that this fundamental insecurity is a precondition for maintaining interest, desire, and intimacy in a relationship – bringing adventure home.

    The irony is that even the predictability in the marriages of the dullest couples is an illusion. As Mitchell says, "Safety is presumed, not a given, but a construction." The conviction that one's partner is both safe and dull is an invention that both have tacitly agreed to and that give a false sense of security.

Not Proud

All confessions are anonymous. There are those that may contain ideas or words offensive to some. Confessions are as we see ourselves. It is not always pretty but it is often illuminating.

  • It's an upper-middle class notion if there ever was one, but I occasionally envy white trash. I want to drink, fuck and fight with no moral qualms. I hate feeling guilty about every single thing I do. My parents are paying for me to go to college, but the only thing is, I haven't been enrolled for the past two years. All I do is play video games and get fucked up; all day. I just finished jerking off to a 12:00 showing of Murder She Wrote, which is a daily ritual.

    Somebody ate my lunch today - right out of the fridge at work. Unfortunately for that sorry bastard somebody's beens stealing my lunch a lot. And today, whoever stole my lunch had a catfood sandwich! Ha, ha, ha! You freakin' lose. How was it?! Good, I hope! I think it was my boss.

Chain Letter

At least this one was funny, excerpt below ...

  • So basically, this message is a big fuck you to all the people out there who have nothing better to do than to send me stupid chain mail forwards. Maybe the evil chain letter leprechauns will come into my apartment and sodomize me in my sleep for not continuing the chain which was started by Ceaser in 5 A.D. and was brought to this country by midget pilgrims on the Mayflower and if it makes it to the year 2000, it'll be in the Guinness Book of World Records for longest continuous streak of blatant stupidity.

Richard Stallman Interview

Found a link to an old, but great, RichardStallman interview called BetterSocietyThroughFreeSoftware on the KDE site. I've seen RMS talk a few times and I have lot of respect for him. I thought his comments about computer environments was particularly interesting. I suspect it's what attracted me to WikiSoftware originally.

  • HY: In a lecture, you mentioned that you didn't use passwords, and had no security for your computer. RMS: Uh-huh. Security might make sense with banks and military facilities, but in a computer lab, that is a sign of a social breakdown. HY: (!!!) Social Breakdown?!?!! RMS: Yes. It's like curing the symptom and worsening the disease. The disease here are the young people who are cut off from warmth and anything really worthwhile, who have nothing on their hands that to rebel and get attention by sneaking into other peoples system. But then the attention that they get from this is one of total hate and hostility. Security sends out that message of hostility, and I don't want to be on either side of it. HY: So, you still don't have security? RMS: I regret to say that we had to. There was this one person who repeatedly erased our files and there was no choice. So we made a gateway, a login server. But since I thought that this was such a sad thing, I thought I should suffer more from it so I can't log in on that server. HY: But on the other hand, FSF supports some encryption scheme, doesn't it? RMS: Well, that's an interesting point. I don't like people who keeps secret from their neighbors, but you should be able to protect yourself from the government. That's where encryption comes in. HY: But governments are, in a sense, an expanded form of a neighborhood, aren't they?

    RMS: Um, no, I don't think of the United States government in that way. No.

$500: LA to Auckland

Check it out.

Radio Hurts ...

Syncato

Syncato is pretty interesting. It's piece of BlogSoftware which uses a native XML database as it's backend and is searchable via XPath. So the more you markup your text the more accessible it is. This is pretty neat from a blogging point of view, but from a Wiki point of view it's amazing. From a data management point of view (as opposed to a community point of view) this is what wiki's should be. Add a wiki markup to XML converter, RecentChanges and some sort of AccidentalLink generator and you have the best wiki ever.

Oh, and lets all remember that TheInternetIsShit.

Isabel, not Teresa

If we keep getting hurricanes Teresa, yes my Teresa, will have a hurricane named after her. There is no hurricane "Adam" though ... perhaps it would be too biblical.

UPDATE: Here's another picture (via RichardSchwartfeger) ... however there have been several comments around that while these are amazing pictures, they probably aren't from isabel. If anyone knows the source of these pictures or has a definative answer I'd be much appreciated.

Product Guarantee

Thank you for choosing this Holdson jigsaw puzzle.

Before you start the challenge of putting together this beautiful puzzle, please read this well intentioned message.

Holdson's jigsaw puzzles after cutting, remain in assembled form and are visually checked to ensure no pieces are missing. Then each puzzle immediately goes through an automatic breaking-up machine. This is designed so that it is virtually impossible to lose a piece, as it is collected and sealed automatically, in a ploythene bag such as you find upon opening your box.

You may be working on and off for days to complete your puzzle. Please ensure that after each session a careful inspection of the floor is made to guard against the possibility of an odd piece having been dropped.

From past experience we know this happens and on the patterned carpet, pieces go unnoticed and finish up in the vacuum clearner. We also suggest you check your clothing as pieces will easily stick to a woollen garment and can be carried to another part of your home. This happens frequently as many customers told us, initially they have been disappointed but later finding the misssing piece in some very strange places.

Have fun in assembling this puzzle but if for any reason you should have a conmplaint please write to us direct ...

5 errors, 172 seconds, 3 beers.

Verisign Being ...

So in your browser go to a random .net domain. Make sure it's something really unintelligable that won't exist, like:

And somehow, magically you end up here. Are they being evil or helpful ...

UPDATE: There have been assorted comments about the security of Verisign's new feature. There has also been a rather large backlash against them (though it's not the first time). Various sources report that the PaulVixie will be providing a patch to allow admins to configure IscBind to detect and ignore the change.

UPDATE 2: IscBind version 9.2.3rc2 has the fix for the Verisign "feature", and there is also a patch for Bind 8.

99 Red Balloons

We hates them. Yes, we hates those red ballons, stupid catchy little pop tunes, we hates every last one of thems ...

You and I in a little toy shop
Buy a bag of balloons with the money we've got.
Set them free at the break of dawn
'Til one by one, they were gone.
Back at base, bugs in the software
Flash the message, Something's out there.
Floating in the summer sky.
99 red balloons go by.

99 red balloons.
floating in the summer sky.
Panic bells, it's red alert.
There's something here from somewhere else.
The war machine springs to life.
Opens up one eager eye.
Focusing it on the sky.
Where 99 red balloons go by.

99 Decision Street.
99 ministers meet.
To worry, worry, super-scurry.
Call the troops out in a hurry.
This is what we've waited for.
This is it boys, this is war.
The president is on the line
As 99 red balloons go by.

99 Knights of the air
Ride super-high-tech jet fighters
Everyone's a superhero.
Everyone's a Captain Kirk.
With orders to identify.
To clarify and classify.
Scramble in the summer sky.
As 99 red balloons go by.

99 dreams I have had.
In every one a red balloon.
It's all over and I'm standing pretty.
In this dust that was a city.
If I could find a souvenier.
Just to prove the world was here.
And here is a red balloon
I think of you and let it go.

South Park ...

CoryWebb pointed out the "create your own South Park character" page which ComedyCentral has put together. Here's my version of Teresa:

And here's her version of me:

Why America Went To War

  • BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Behind doors in Baghdad's main movie strip, there is no such teasing. Barely a seat is empty as hundreds of men, most puffing cigarettes, sit in total silence and darkness to enjoy scenes of nudity and sex for 1,000 Iraqi dinars ($0.50) a time. "Under Saddam, forget it. You would go to jail for showing or watching this," said movie-watcher Mohammed Jassim at the Atlas Cinema where one of the films on offer was disturbingly named "Real Raping."

    The fall of Saddam Hussein liberalised Iraq's cinema industry overnight.

Source: http://channels.netscape.com/

Unwired ...

Once again I have wireless, because of the way our ISP (ParadiseNet) works, and the fact that all of my geek gear is still enroute, this is particularly useful:

  • Teresa and I can both be online at the same time.
  • Our laptops are no longer tied to a 5 foot radius of the cable modem which is tied to a 5 foot radius of the cable jack.
  • Teresa no longer has to put up with me stealing her computer, or her net accesss.
  • There is now a firewall between the "big bad internet" and Teresa's WindowsXp computer (<cough> DCOM ... <cough>) .

  • From first experiences I recommend the ThreeComOfficeConnect11g.

One a wireless note, I've been poking around the NzWireless scene and they seem pretty cool, though still in very early days. Hopefully I'll hook up with some of them this weekend though the big decision I'm trying to make is how much commitment I have left. I don't want to get involved if I don't have the enthusiasm to actually follow through and be useful. We'll see ...

Marriage Madlibs

As we plan for this event it occurs to us that maybe we're taking this whole thing too seriously ....

  • I will be your (RELATION) and (OCCUPATION), the (BODY PART) on which you lean, the (NOUN) on which you rest, and the companion of your life. With you I will (VERB) my path, sharing my physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual life. I will (RUN ON SENTENCE) for you in life-long commitment.

    I will always love you, (BOYS NAME). Accordingly, I, (GIRLS NAME), take you, (BOYS NAME), to be my lawfully wedded (RELATIVE).

    (GIRLS NAME), I take you to be my (ADJECTIVE) wedded wife. Before these witnesses, I (VERB) to love you and care for you as long as we both shall live. I take you with all your (BAD THINGS) and your (GOOD THINGS) as I offer (NOUN) to you with my faults and strengths. I will help you when you need (VERB), and I will turn to you when I need help. I choose you as the (MAMMAL) with whom I will spend my (NOUN).

<sigh> ... now we've taken this too seriously.

Night Photography

n23-8

n24-27

These are amazing. Check out http://www.nightphotographer.com/ (the navigation kinda sucks but stick with it until you get the hang of it).

End Your Inbox Tyranny!

One by one I am unsubscribing from the MailLists I read. Instead I subscribe and read them via Gmane's amazing list to newsgroup portal. I will fight inbox tyranny at all current and future work places. No more shall inboxes be the place of automated news, MailLists and corporate policy spam ... email shall be used for human to human interaction. Do I have an "Amen" out there? A-fucking-men brother!

Quickies

  • Thanks to EricMeyer we now have a JavaScript color blender. Very very cool for designing web sites.

  • I've been watching DerrenBrown's TV show "Mind Control", it's fascinating. He's a street magician/psyhic who claims he does it all simply by understanding how people think. He's primarily an entertainer but as part of the show he does a little explaination and debunking. I thought the examples of how to tell when someone is lying were particularly interesting.

Attention Span

CharlieStross writes ...

  • It struck me, while I was out there, that exposure to the internet has gradually reduced my attention span to that of an amphetamine-crazed ferret. I am reading more than ever before, but fewer books, and less is sticking. It's time to strictly limit my daily webtime and start making headway on the to-read bookcase I've been steadily accumulating through buying books faster than I can read them for the past couple of years. This decision is, in part, prompted by the discovery that last year I bought a whole shelf-length of books back from ConJose, and this year I've repeated the exercise, and I've only read half of last years' load.

Hidden Darkness

BruceSterling writes about the possible darkside that profit keeps at bay:

  • The denizens of OpenCultures want their connected collectivism to liberate the world from regulations, markets, and intellectual property. But what if victory only clears the way for corruption of their beloved culture? When I listen to Ceca, I have to wonder what dark passions and ancient evils have been held in check by the grim totalitarianism of the profit motive. We may yet find out.

Ooops, RSS Feed Broken

Sorry, I just noticed that my RSS feed has been broken ... I'm not sure for how long. I don't have time to debug it right now so I've just fixed the links. The new icon down the right will take you to the correct place and so will this link.

I'll try and fix it properly soon.

Quickies

  • An console based RSS aggregator called Raggle, looks interesting.

  • A floppy based wireless router gatewaay called Sisela. Includes BusyBox, IPtables, wireless-tools, PCMCIA (HostApMode?), uDHCP(c)d and Dropbear for an SSH server. Apparently will include BIRD for v4/v6 OSPF/BGP routing. Sounds too good to be true ...

  • My list of InformationClients is growing ... yum.

May 11, 1996: Carl Sagan

"We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.

The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity - in all this vastness - there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It's been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."

  • From a commencement address delivered by Professor Carl Sagan, May 11, 1996.
  • Image from Voyager 1, looking back at the Earth in 1990.

The Guys at Work

Recently I've been dicking around with KVM's, USB to PS2 and PS2 to USB converters trying to get all my KinesisKeyboard hooked up to my Macintosh and still be able to do "work" on my Linux box. It's been a colossal pain in the ass trying to get everything working with everything else, dealing with USB mice PS2 KVM's and all the requisit connectors and converters. Tonight I finally got it all to work.

Seconds after making everything work Aaron pointed out that all this KVM stuff was rather unnecessary and that Synergy2 would be a much simpler solution if it supported AppleOsx. Of course it doesn't but a quick Google search later I discovered OSX2X. It looks like I shall soon be a happy camper.

Update: ARGG! It's OSX 2 X not X 2 OSX, crap! So now I'm checking out SGI's NDS (Network Dual-head System) ... this shit shouldn't be this hard.

Update 12 March 2004): I'm not tracking this on the AppleSoftware page, but note that there is a utility called Teleport which works between two Macs.

Retirement on the Job

DonPark writes about his reading of the ChaordicCommons by DeeHock.

  • "We made a firm decision. Ferol would obtain her degree and take a teaching job helping children with speech and hearing impairments. I would make no more effort to climb the corporate ladder. I would make no more intense commitment to work. Instead, I would join the crowd and take up what may be the most common career in modern organizations: "retirement on the job". My victim would be one of the local banks where a modest living could be had at the cost of a pleasant demeanor, conformity, and fractional ability or effort. There would be no cheating. A creditable job would be done. But they wolud get no great bargain."

---

Teresa and I were just watching Mr. Personality (ugg) and soaking in it's shallow depths. It occurred to us that they should do a Miss Personality where all the contenders wear robot style boxes around their body, or better yet, sumo suits! Now that would be entertainment.

Email Is Dead

RossMayfield is joining the ranks of people talking about how broken our email system is. Most people seem to think that IntelligentAgents or filtering services (eg. SpamAssassin or SpamBayes) will be the solution. I'm coming to believe that all our smart filters are actually making things significantly worse for the "common man" by contributing to the "spam arms race", while offering only marginal improvements for the techophiles. Some are talking about UsingRss to replace email and email lists while others like BillSeitz think that we're bundling too many issues together and need to take a step back and reconsider the problem.

What is clear is that lots of people, especially the technophiles, are sick to death of all the crap they are getting in their email. What's not clear is whether it's actually the email infrastructure itself that's about to collaspse from systemic failure.

Wiki Travel Site

A fabulous use for a wiki.

As American as Apple Pie ...

sodomy-postcard

The Colour Purple

I just saw this on the back of a bag of Jaffas.

  • CADBURY, JAFFAS, AND THE COLOUR PURPLE ARE CADBURY GROUP TRADEMARKS USED IN NEW ZEALAND BY CADBURY CONFECTIONERY LTD.

WTF? You can trademark purple?

We Finally Got a Car

A late 80's Nissan Pulsar EXA. All the high school kids are so jealous.

exa-1

exa-2

Community Wireless Networking How To

Saul Albert is working on a comprehensive beginners how to on CommunityWireless. He's got a great start, if you have time, energy or enthusiasm now would be a great time to chip in with comments and help.

While you're at it help spread the word about the Pico Peering Agreement.

Real Community

Douglas Rushkoff:

  • I was just reading a book written by Max Lerner in 1957 called "America as a Civilization," in which he wonders not if "the small town can be rehabilitated," but what will evolve in America "to replace it."

    In the age of virtual community, Lerner's work is considered pretty prescient. But I can't help but think that nothing, truly, can replace the physicality of an actual community in which people really live. And while a small town may not be possible, or even desirable for everyone in America, I think a sense of neighborhood may just be a crucial component to healthy living.

The Important Thing Is To Pretend

JonathonDelacour writes:

  • This is profoundly useful advice which cuts to the essence of how we learn. By pretending. By ignoring the fact that we don’t know how to do something and choosing to behave as though we did. Children learn in this way. Adults have mostly forgotten how. We convince ourselves that it’s too difficult, that our minds don’t work that way, that we lack the physical aptitude, that we need to take a course… when actually all that’s required is the mindset that says: “I know I don’t know how to do this, but if I carefully observe someone who does know, and then imitate them, I’ll be able to fool myself into doing it too.”

    If there’s no-one to model, you might need to imagine how an expert might do it, or read a book to get started. The important thing is to pretend.

FX Companies

Who needs them?

11110

So now I am officially not to be trusted.

Sweet Image Indexer

Found a very simple, very pretty, very easy to use image indexer written in PHP called ThAutoIndex. That's the right three very's for my tastes.

I think I'll try and write a PythonLanguage index.cgi with similar functionality.

iPod Grumps

Shortly before we left I made my first egregious technology purchase in a long time, an AppleIpod. Due to the chaos of moving it's been sitting in my backpack until last week when I dusted it off so I could listen to music on the bus ride to work. Bearing in mind that I've never used another MP3 player and that I appear to have lost the manual between Portland and Wellington, I have some complaints:

  • Why the hell is there no random playlist built in?
  • The stems of their "high quality earbuds" knock against my wooden ear studs and create an awful clicking sound that is a total pain in the ass to track down the cause of.
  • Using the menu button to go backwards is not intuitive. Easy enough to figure out (there are only five buttons plus a dial after all) but not intuitive.
  • The "Macintosh" iPod uses an HPFS+ filesystem to store MP3's and the "Windows" iPod uses VFAT, this is because iTunes (and 3rd party syncing software) relies on mounting the iPod's disk to transfer files. This sucks because nothing but a Macintosh can do HPFS+ and iTunes won't do VFAT ... thus you're locked into a Macintosh Only or a Windows/Linux world.

  • The touch sensitive control dial is so sensitive that it's difficult to carry while walking and not bump accidentially. I am constantly using the hold feature to stop accidental song changes.
  • You navigate with the menu and center button and the touch dial. You also adjust the properties of a song (volume, rewind/skip, ranking) with the touch dial and the center button. This has two annoying side effects:
    1. If you've browsed to a song other then the one you are listening to, you have to browse back to it to change the volume/rewind/ranking.
    2. You can't adjust the ranking of a song which you aren't listening to.
  • The battery life doesn't to live up to expectations and goes flat quickly even when not being used.

Wi-Fi Robot Guard Dog

PaulHolman and EricJohanson from the ShmooGroup have built a wifi enabled robot guard "dog" for display at DefCon (picture)... and apparently eventual sale. Freaking cool, go guys.

  • "The point of the hacker robot is that it can become an autonomous hacker droid," said Paul Holman, the robot's co-designer, who demonstrated it for the first time at the DefCon hacker convention here. "It can get in close to the network. On the offensive side, it can be used for corporate or political espionage. On the defensive side, it can be used for network vulnerability assessment."

More ShmooGroup coverage of the annual capture the flag contest (though I think that's Bob in the picture not Pravir):

It's so lame I moved to NewZealand and didn't get to go this year. :-)

Small Computers and the Blog Migration

CharlieStross, author of the excellent "Lobsters" novella (and apparent PeterJackson clone), writes about the usefulness of small computers. I heartily agree ...

  • "And the next thing: at a very specific level, mini-ITX motherboards and cases are The Way To Go. Tiny, cheap, fanless PCs with trailing-edge processors -- only 1GHz -- are nevertheless a really amazingly cool idea, especially when you start thinking in terms of turning them into personal video recorders (running things like FreeVo) or in-car GPS navigation systems. Or Beowulf clusters. Marketing hype has obsessed most punters with clock speed, so that the owner of a 2.4GHz processor sneers at their neighbour with the 2.1GHz clock -- but if both machines have the same bus frequency, memory, and disk architecture, all the extra CPU speed means is that the faster machine will spend more time in cache stalls. "Slower" computers (we're still talking faster than a Cray XMP here) that don't sound like an air conditioning system, that can run off a trickle of current and live in a case the size of a paperback book, and that are tailored to a specific task, are really useful. Me, I'm off to build a household music server to hold the contents of the 600-odd CD's cluttering up the place -- and if that works, I'm going to add a set-top box for the cable TV decoder. See you later!"

... on a totally unrelated note I'm poking around BlogSoftware again and am considering moving my blog to one of the"Blosxom's", probably PyBlosxom. I really like Blosxom's use of the file system for hierarchy, it allows very simple managment and all sorts of symlink fun for multipath taxonomies. Another nice feature is it's use of MoinMoin for formatting rules meaning I can re-use content from the spack.org wiki. The hard part is deciding where to draw the line between wiki and blog content. I have a suspicion that if PyBlosxom actually works the way I think it does I'll end up migrating more and more data that way.

Protect Your Visitors

From the ravages of parasites.

  • "If you run a web site, some of your users may be seeing advertising links and pop-ups on your pages that appear to be from you, but aren’t; some programs spy on information entered into your forms (even ‘secure’ ones). If you want to help stop this and warn people visiting your sites about the problem, this script can do it."

The Importance of Coconut Trees

  • "...the king of all edible plants, the coconut, is found on almost every island. More than just the universal symbol of tropical paradise, it is the magic tree of life for it provides all the essentials, water, food and shelter. In tropical climates your priority is to find drinking water. A small island without a river or other source might not provide any other water than its coconuts. The juice is rich in potassium and other minerals. The young flesh looks like yogurt-gelatin and is delicious. The old flesh is hard and can be good to eat in reasonable quantities, and when shredded or processed into milk is a great addition to various dishes. In addition to its nutritious value, coconuts also have some medicinal properties. The juice of green coconuts (immature fruits) is recommended for heart, liver and kidney disorders, as well as gonorrhea. In case of dehydration, it can be excellent mixed with some lime juice or even lime and baby formula."

If you are ever stranded on a small tropical island you are now this much better prepared.

Global News, Personal News

Amazon is now supporting RSS feeds for searches, if you are a book author this takes ego surfing to a whole new level.

NewZealand is getting it's very own mirror of F.ROOT-SERVERS.NET. Sure it's just a whimpy, unimportant mirror but this is one of the special few that holds the internet together. Why isn't this making global headlines?

Ronin, the new maus, is taking shape, Mike's been working hard to set stuff up (security weasel that he is). I've been trying to pry apart all the dependancies that are spack.org and set things up so that people can be migrated one at a time. In general things are progressing nicely.

Somewhere in the midst of this chaos I'd like to setup a pyblosxom blog for Teresa and myself ... oh, and get those pictures online.

Include: Nothing found for "^----"!

Dual Citizenship

When Americans discover that I'm a citizen (and passport holder) of three countries they often ask, "Isn't that illegal?". The answer is "No it isn't".

Different countries have different perspectives on citizenship. America views citizenship as a privilege, England and other members of the commonwealth, view citizenship as a duty. While America might gank your citizenship for misbehaving, England won't because your ass belongs to the Queen. It's worthwhile to note that both countrys will hang you for treason.

All that aside it has been legal (in America) for an American to hold multiple citizenships for many years. In the process of trying to figure out to get a new copy of Teresa's birth certificate I stumbled across this statement about dual nationality on the US Embassies web site:

  • The Supreme Court of United States has stated that dual nationality is a "status long recognized in the law" and that "a person may have and exercise rights of nationality in two countries and be subject to the responsibilities of both. The mere fact that he asserts the rights of one citizenship does not without more mean that he renounces the other", Kawakita v. U.S., 717(1952).

The Defacement of Wiki's

Dear Sir (the one who is currently defacing this site from 203.162.3.140).

I know that calling you an idiot is only going to spur you on to greater levels of stupidity but I can contain myself no more. As your keen intellect has noticed the administrator of this site has applied a broken SoftSecurity methodology called WikiWiki. There have been many discussions on WhyWikiWorks (or even WhyWikiWorks), including the one called WhatIsImportantAboutWiki. Obviously they didn't take netizens of your great intellect into consideration when they discussed this.

The Administrator.

Never Gonna Pay Back the Favours

Everyone has been so nice it's ridiculous.

Rebecca, Paul, Malcolm and Mike got WetaDigital to offer me an amazing job. Weta mostly paid for us to move here. James was graceful about me giving less then a weeks notice. John was good about taking on the extra work. The PersonalTelco board understood me bailing a month early on my presidential commitments (in the middle of an election). Gene and Tara let us (repeatedly) abuse their hospitality. The whole Seattle crew came down to see us off. Everyone bought our cheap ass stuff (even Lori who bought the fucking Explorer which apparently died the day after we left the country). Our landlady helped us squeak out with less then 30 days notice. Rudy and Marianne didn't lynch me for dragging their daughter to the other side of the world. When we arrived Mike, Rebecca and Tomek picked us up at the airport and took us out for breakfast. My parents flew up from DunedinNewZealand to help us get settled when we first arrived. Rebecca and Tomek let us stay with them and borrow their car. Michelle is loaning us her car. Mike says he'll help us find our own car, and everyone is finding spare stuff that we can use to fill our mostly empty house. I don't know how my parents did this twice with me and my sister in tow.

You're all saving our asses, or at least making our asses a whole lot more comfortable while we settle in. Thanks.

< ... pictures ... still ... coming ... >

Do You Ever ...

... have one of those weeks where everyone acts like you've pissed in their paddling pool?

Digital Emergence

So I'm finally emerging back into the digital world. I've got mail working (thank you to whoever hacked "-D" into SSH, see UsingSsh for details) and am getting familiar enough with work that I'm not totally stressed about how much I don't know.

I note that someone transcribed my PersonalTelco PartingSpeech. Other then including my every utterence of "Um" in the transcription (I really need to work on that with my public speaking) I'm actually fairly pleased with how it reads and what it says.

Welcome Fucking Home

So really. Did we both have to get sick the day after we arrived?

On a brighter note, we signed the tenancy agreement for our new house on Marewa Road yesterday. It's a bit more then we wanted to spend but it's a beautiful little three bedroom house at the top of Hataitai (that's "ha-tie-tie"), with a view out over most of the Wellington harbour. It's about twenty minutes walk, or 5 minute bus ride, from downtown so it should be fairly convenient. The downside is that we can't move in until friday as the owner is in the process of moving to the States, and our free Weta provided hotel runs on tonight. Fortunately Rebecca and Tomek are being very nice and letting us stay with them until Friday so that'll be perfect, especially since their house is about two blocks from the hotel we're staying in.

Hopefully I'll get some pictures up soon but my Mac is acting up and I can't be bothered messing with it right now.

PS. If anyone is trying to get ahold of me via email I'm not ignoring you specifically, I'm ignoring everyone. I can't check my email at work via IMAP (thus no bayesian filtering) and the amount of spam I get has rendered pine close to useless. I'll get something setup once I get net access at home and can dink at my leisure.

The First Week.

We got on the plane at 10:11am on the 4th of July in AnchorageAlaska and after crossing the international date line and going through NewZealand customs arrived in WellingtonNewZealand on Sunday the 6th of July at 8:00am.

Monday morning I started work at WetaDigital, the company the does all the digital effects for the LordOfTheRings movies. I've never seen a company which treats new employees so well, I'm really impressed. On the technical side the environment is very familiar but the deployment scale is much larger then I've previously experienced. While watching the guys troubleshoot problems it struck home that there is a lot for me to learn here, which is refreshing, working alone for the last three years in Portland has really stagnated my technical skills. It'll fun to get back into the trenches.

Teresa and I are off for some urban hunting for flats and furniture later this afternoon. Hopefully we'll find something because our rental car and hotel room expires this weekend.

Onwards.

We eventually got tickets, movers and all the other stuff sorted and left PortlandOregon for AnchorageAlaska on the 26th of June. Upon arrival and a nights sleep we immediately headed up to Teresa's parents cabin (float plane or snowmachine only access) where we did as little as possible. We normally go up to Alaska for christmas so it was nice to be up in the height of summer. The best part was lying in a small boat in the middle of Trapper Lake looking straight up at Mt. McKinley and feeling as if you're actually sitting on top of the world.

We also managed to track down all our old friends who are still in Alaska, or happened to be visiting over the 4th and had a big BBQ with everyone over, it was nice to catch up.

Tomorrow we get on the plane for WellingtonNewZealand.

Wrapping Up

We don't know:

  • What time the movers are showing up.
  • When our plan tickets arrive.

But we do know:

  • That the movers are supposed to show up on Friday.
  • That it costs $3455.73 to move a small room full of books, and miscellaneous possesions from PortlandOregon to WellingtonNewZealand with less then a weeks notice.

  • That with elaborate usage of Alaska Airlines frequent flyer miles you can get two people from PortlandOregon to WellingtonNewZealand for $2,500 with less then three days notice.

  • Air NewZealand doesn't do e-tickets (luddites!)

  • That some travel agents are better then others (I heartily recommend Stephanie Jung at Voyager Travel in CannonBeachOregon).

  • Where we're staying when we get there.

It's been a crazy week but we've made progress. We're totally burnt but managing and it'll be nice when this is all over.

I stopped by my last PersonalTelco MonthlyMeeting tonight. After explaining why I was leaving so suddenly and briefly endorsing NigelBallard for president I wanted to remind everyone why we were doing all this.

While many of us are mainly in it for the learning, the tech and the free surfing there's more to it. We are capable of building a network that no one can control but us 3. We are capable of extending the network to places where the incumbants can't serve. We are capable of extending the network to places that the incumbants don't want to serve. We are capable of keeping the pressure on the commercial operators and making them serve the publics best interests. We've done a lot of ground work that can help us achieve all this over the last two years, but we still need to focus our attention and actually get this thing done. Lets not get too distracted by all the new toys, this is a digital divide tool and should be used as such.

It was nice to see everyone one last time, I'll miss hanging out and dreaming.

Aaron Swartz has too Much Spare Time

Algorithm for Determining Imagination from Reality

Let's say you're torn between two worlds. You know that one is a fevered delusion that your mind has created and the other one is reality, but which is which? (Also, you can do accurate multiplication by hand.) Apply this algorithm in both worlds:

  • Pick a reasonably large random number. (It has to be large enough that you can't find the square root in your head.)
  • Ask someone else in the world to find the square root using a calculator.
  • On your own, square the number and see if it matches the number from step 1.

If the world is real, then the calculator will come up with the correct answer. If it's in your head, you won't be able to calculate the square root, and the number the imaginary-person-with-calculator you ask will be wrong.

Moving Back to New Zealand!

I'm jumping ahead a day here but that's because it's the 19th in New Zealand right now. :-? I just accepted a job offer to go work for WetaDigital in WellingtonNewZealand. I'll be helping them finish up the third movie and then seeing what happens after that.

It should be fun, and it'll be nice to be close to family again.

Spam Laws are a Bad Idea

The more I hear about it, the more I think that all the current legal ideas for stopping spam are an awful idea. I know that they are well intentioned but we'd be giving a centralized authority (the government) the power to regulate speech, and that can only be a bad idea. Also by makign spam illegal will just create a new criminal underground. How long till we have the first spammer anti-hero in popular culture?

I'm not yet convinced that there is a technical solution to the problem, I don't like blacklists or challenge-reponse systems as they both have unacceptable collatoral damage. Newer ideas like hash cash are good on the surface but I think that they'll prove worse then the problem in the long run. All that really leaves is revamping the email system to be a properly authenticated protocol and that's going to have problems all of it's own, not to mention the years it will take to be widely deployed.

So the best I can think of is that we need to do is to launch a massive advertising campaign (along the lines of to teach people that buying from spammers is stupid. If we can lower the ratio of spam purchases from 1 in 1,000 (or whatever) to 1 in a 1,000,000 then it won't be financially viable to send spam anymore. Keep the pressure on them from black lists, the kooks that harass them and just keep making it less profitable and slowly spam will drop back to managable levels. In the long run email is as dead as usenet, we just need to buy time to move to something better.

Mickey Mouse is the Devil!

Mickey Mouse is the Devil!

Red Heads Require ...

Reading the comments on JoeGregorio's blog I'm reminded that red heads are a mythical creature with special requirements.

  • My operation went smoothly, except that I’ve since learned that redheads need (on average) 20% more anasthetic than everyone else. So when the urologist started his first incision, I nearly punched him.

JerrittCollord has been investigating cell phone based location aware computing, no source but this doesn't seem like good news:

  • They specifically cite Java and the Java Location API as threats to both privacy and charge models, and say that the GSM association has filed a JCP (Java Community Processs) request with Sun to block Java APIs from accessing location information without going through the carriers.

Six Months of Not Smoking

Addiction sucks. Actually let me rephrase that, addiction isn't so bad. Breaking up with addiction is like sucking the chunky bits through a straw. Teresa and I started our last attempt to quit smoking on December 6th, 2002. It's been over six months and to the best of my memory neither of us have cheated. I think we can now officially say that we're "ex-smokers".

I never truely understood what people meant when they say "Once an addict always an addict", I think I have a little bit more of an idea now. Even after six months it's amazing how often something triggers my desire for a smoke, walking into someones house who I haven't seen for a while, going to the airport, certain bars, that elusive wiff of smoke as you walk past a door. It's never overwhelming but it's never far removed, a latent omnipresent desire.

I am now pretty sure that I wasn't that pysically addicted to nicotine, I was incredibly addicted to the ritual. I like smoking, I like being addicted to smoking, I just don't want to die a horrible death and pay PhillipMorris a premium for the priviledge. I like having something to fidget with, I like twirling the smoke in my mouth, I like the taste of smoke on Teresa's lips, I like the camaraderie amoungst the modern lepers and I love the enforced breaks.

It's the breaks I miss the most, the "Hey baby, wanna go smoke?" Since we never smoked inside every hour or two Teresa and I would end up outside talking. Often the mandatory five minute break would turn into an hour long discussion of whatever was on our minds.

That's what I miss about addiction, that's what I miss about smoking.

Quickies: AOL, PTP and a Recycled Laptop Bag

Little does AOL know but thanks to SlashDot they are funding years worth of drunken party fun, and to think, all you need is a dremel.

The new PersonalTelco web site got rolled out, the mixed capitalization is driving me crazy. For the first time other people did most of the work, thanks to LonnieWormley and JPWain

I bought a new laptop bag in preparation for my Apple iBook (finally!) getting here. They don't seem to have the exact model I got on their web site but it's similar to this one only it's a bit larger and instead of hemp it's a Cordora like plastic material. The company is based out of PortlandOregon and called ThinkAgain and everything they make is made entirely out of recycled materials.

Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace

Here's an old thread I started on MeatBall. It's a couple years old, back when I was first ramping up with PersonalTelco and CommunityWireless and had endless energy for discussing the ideas involved.

I've just started reading LawrenceLessig's book "Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace". I'm finding it pretty challenging, here are some thoughts that have accurred to me as I read (I do not wish to defend them right now, they are just thoughts, but comments are welcome):

  • It is every users responsiblity to learn to program. To understand, to some degree, how their computer and the internet function.
  • Further, once you can, it is your duty to contribute to FreeSoftware. FreeSoftware is responsible for maintaining liberty in "Cyberspace".

  • OpenSource took the teeth away from FreeSoftware, by providing a more paletable version of FreeSoftware for people to latch on to. By providing this they made it easy for people to avoid examining their thoughts on the ideals software.

  • Wireless networks like PersonalTelco may be an unknowing gurerrilla step to reclaiming the internet. By getting people to construct a "wireless node" in order to get access, you empower them by turning them from an user to a participant (need a better word, administrator?).

  • The FirstThingsFirstManifesto throws the gauntlet down to graphic designers and embodies many of the feelings of disgust I've felt over the last seven years working in the high tech industry. A similar challenge needs to be sent out to the high tech workers of the world. We need to reclaim the internet and make it "the people's", I think that CommunityWireless projects could play a large part in this.

  • How would you apply SoftSecurity to networks instead of to web pages? CommunityWireless would be a perfect place to experiment with this. Currently I'm exploring implementations of captive portals [3] but really all they do is use a browser as an authentication method, they don't use SoftSecurity (discussion on this last topic moved to NetworkSoftSecurity).

The Joy of Kites

One year my dad took me, my sister and some of the grouphome kids he worked with down to the dry lake beds in the MojaveDesert to see the SpaceShuttle land. That was exciting enough for a space fixated pre-teen ... but while we were driving there I saw people sailing land boats with huge sails across the barren lake beds at amazing speads. Years later while reading ArthurRansome's "Winter Holiday" I learned about IceBoats and that people do similar things on frozen lakes. I was possesed with the desire to do this until age provided a sufficent a distance from childhood that those dreams were exchanged for grown up dreams of girls, fame and fortune.

Recently I've rediscovered the joy of FlyingKites, modern kites really are quite amazing, they certainly aren't the tame kites of yesteryear that I remember from childhood. In fact kites are so much fun that they make the Oregon coast worthwhile ... suddenly the long, windy streches of beach serve a purpose other then reminding me of absent sun.

Now I just need to get a bigger kite and a mountainboard, or a buggy, or hell, I'll just start kite jumping. I will reclaim my childhood!

Turn Moin Pages to RSS Feeds

The plan is coming together. I've been pretty happy with my little WikiLog but I'd like to have an RSS feed for it. Now Conectiva:GustavoNiemeyer has written an Conectiva:InlineRss macro which allows the creation of RSS feeds by carefully placing tags in a page. I think it'll work well with my included blog page scheme. Sweet ...

Update: After talking with Gustavo it seems that I'm out of luck for using his macro to work with this page, as it currently doesn't understand included pages. We're both poking around for solutions. On the plus side, while poking around his web site I found his Conectiva:EditMoin program, which is rather nice.

Updated 2: Well Gustavo is the man, a couple of emails, a moment of brilliance, some quick code ... and now it works. You will see an RSS icon on this page shortly. Thanks!

John Dvorak on Open Source Motivations

JohnDvorak is guest blogging over at BoingBoing. He points out this comment which was in response to his article about the whole SCO vs. Linux shebang.

  • "OpenSource software is an important effort to replace 'for-profit' motives (with it's material rewards) with 'for-ego' motives (with it's emotional and psychological rewards). It's a restatement of capitalism's thesis ('private vice begets public virtue') for an industry in which the participants feel the immaterial rewards for one's self (prestige) are equivalent to, or greater than, the possible material rewards for one's self (money).

    "Vanity is the driving force behind OpenSource software, as is greed behind closed-source software. Try to use someone's OSS code without attributing original authorship, and you will see how quickly your quaint "community" devolves into harsh campaigns of public remonstration towards the violator. It is of primary importance that original authorship always be identified.

    "This is _not_ the hallmark of a communal environment; it is indicative of an environment in which everything is okay as long as people get credit for what they have contributed to a project. In other words, people in this community are not driven by altruism over greed, but by fame over obscurity."

Now, given this ... is FreeSoftware different from OpenSource?

Bitch'n Online Comics

I gave up on collecting comics years and years ago because I always ended up missing one issue and they got damaged too easily. My discovery of FrankMiller's "The Dark Night Returns" got me collecting graphic novels again and to this day I still do occassionally buy them. However I few years ago the proliferation of ultra-glossy, ultra-slick comics had me going less and less to the comic store. Now I see that WarrenEllis is pointing out worthy online comics, and some of them kick ass. My only real complaint is that I don't like reading comics on my monitor, I like reading them on the crapper and then using them to ...

Petition to Reclaim the Public Domain

Our friend LawrenceLessig has written a petition urging congress to reclaim the public domain. There's a brief about it at eldrid.cc and some discussion at SlashDot. Check it out, and if you think it's worthy take a second and sign the petition.

I've had a couple people ask my why we want to allow corporations to renew copyrights for an amount as negligable as $1. Lessig has a response on his blog, and here is the response I've been sending:

  • Lessig's Eldred case was an attempt to do the right thing and get the supreme court to reset copyright terms to sane lengths. It failed so that avenue of attack is no longer available. The courts judgement was that it wasn't their place to make the determination of what "limited time" meant. Thus we are in the situation where we have to lobby congress to get our views heard ... and thus are almost certainly doomed to fail.

    An important part of the Eldred case was the claim that the majority of the harm that current copyright causess is with old works where it's almost impossible to track down who the actual copyright holder is. Even if you can track down who it is, it can almost impossible to contact with them to gain permission to reuse a work (for pay or for free). This especially effects small companies and organizations like Gutenberg and Eldred who are trying to preserve the public domain, because of the overhead and uncertainty involved in contacting copyright holders we are daily loosing material from the public domain because by the time it's available to be preserved by the public, it's already physically lost forever.

    By charging a negligable fee after X years of copyright monopoly is up, you force corporations to track what it is they want to want to control *and* you get a centralized, easily queried, database of works that are under copyright. When you find an old work, and want to use it, all you have to do is query the database. If it's not there you can use it. If it is then you know who to ask for permisssion.

WikiLogs Opens for Business

In the interests of WebSeitz:SpreadingWikiweblog's, BillSeitz has opened wikilogs.com for business. The service is based off of his own WikiLog called WebSeitz. He's using Zope and a customized ZWiki for his wiki platform, the big advantage of what he's doing over what I'm doing here is that pages named a certain way (eg. zYYYY-MM-DD-ArbitraryTextTag) are mixed in with the RecentChanges page to give a temporal representation of a wiki (see his WebSeitz:FrontPage).

I think the biggest problem he's going to have is that he's under estimated people's desire to have their web site "look nice". Personally I think the default page he's built is fairly ugly (even uglier then spack.org :-? ). Over all I applaud the effort though I'd like to see a WikiPhotoAlbum, WikiTrackBack and easy skinning built in as well.

...

Oooh, MIT's HayStack has downloadable source, yummy. Looks really interesting, but the hardware requirements are a bit painful.

MoinMoin Page ACL's

So I see that MoinMoin has recently had AccessControlList code checked into CVS. Since this site is currently running the CVS version (and major props to everyone for the stability of the CVS version) I decided to check it out. Overall I'm really impressed, the controls are so feature rich that it's a little overwhelming at first, but fortunately the HelpOnAccessControlLists is quite good (though not on the main site yet).

The ACL support is good enough that the RecentChanges page is filtered according to them, so if you aren't allowed to read a page, it doesn't show up in your view. Sweet! I'll be experimenting more soon, I suspect this will be the final straw and I'll get to replace our OpenWiki installation at work with with MoinMoin.

Iraq Freenet

“We are happy to announce that you can get free internet access by dialing up this number”.

The SCO vs. Linux debate gets even funnier, be sure to check out the Dukes of Hazard version of the whole affair.

JonUdell talks about the importance of naming at OSCON.

2003-05-30 - Déjâ vu Anyone?

So once again Nullsoft releases OpenSource software and it's ganked from their site within 24 hours of being SlashDot'd. Fortunately there is a mirror or two. The really sad thing is that NullsoftWaste really isn't a file sharing application, it's more of a group callaboration tool. I wonder if it was the encryption that freaked them out?

More:

2003-05-29 - SCO vs. Linux

I lived in SantaCruzCalifornia, I've even done paid SCO consulting in my past. So far I've been ignoring the whole SCO vs. Linux deal as the last gasp of a dying company. However this from Chris Sontag, SCO's annoys me:

  • There is no mechanism in Linux to ensure [the legality of] that intellectual property of the source code being contributed by various people. We fully believe there are many contributions made by good, hard-working individuals into Linux that are not of issue.

He isn't attacking the legality of Linux, he's attacking the credibility of OpenSource. He's saying that OpenSource developers are a shady theiving lot and if you trust their software for mission critical thing you never know when you'll have world ganked out from under you.

2003-05-27 - A Book of the Dead

I just discovered that WilliamGibson's blog (which actually I thought he had discontinued) now supports RSS, sweet! Oh, and I was just wondering the other day whatever happened to "Agrippa: A BookOfTheDead", it was soooo cool when I was a kid.

2003-05-26 - World View

I just added the ClusterfuckNationManifesto to my collection of manifesto's. What I think is interesting is what it shows about the attitude of the author. Given his assumptions, which aren't at all cheery, I think he's built an incredibly optimistic view of what could happen from there.

It's also interesting, the old CypherPunk mantra, "If encryption is outlawed, only outlaws will have encryption." seems to be coming true. Perhaps a self-fulling prophesy?

2003-05-22 - Arbitrary Power

  • "Let us consider, my lords, that arbitrary power has seldom or never been introduced into a country at once. It must be introduced by slow degrees, and, as it were, step by step, lest the people should see it approach. The barriers and fences of the people's liberty must be plucked up one by one, and some plausible pretense must be found for removing or hoodwinking, one after another, those sentries who are posted by the constitution of a free country, for warning the people of their danger. When these preparatory steps are once made, the people may then, indeed, with regret, see slavery and arbitrary power making long strides over their land; but it will be too late to think of preventing or avoiding the impending ruin."

    Lord Erskine, 1792 (Defending Thomas Paine in London)

2003-05-16 - Media Control

The FCC has proposed new rules that would allow ...

Oh and LawrenceLessig says that TheInternetIsDying. Perhaps the WirelessCommons will be more important then I thought.

2003-05-15 - Security Doesn't Create Trust

DavidReed says that security mechanisms don't create trust.

  • Humans gain trust by interacting and "getting to know" people. Transparent technologies that make it easy to see what people and companies are up to (in a sense the opposite of firewalls) are what help me trust. I like Reagan's saying: "trust, but verify". It implies that trust requires means for openness, not firewalls and secretiveness.

    From now on, whenever a security technology guru tells me that computer security "creates trust" I'm going to demand evidence. I suggest you do so as well.

2003-05-11 - I Want to Own My Own Data Dammit!

BillSeitz writes:

  • I'm starting to feel like the eventual model needs to be that each person has a single core/central app/DataStore ("SemanticClient") which then serves as a source for new (SocialSoftware and other) applications. OSAF/Chandler, PersonalKnowledgeManagement, EMail AddressBook? (for WhiteList spam blocking), InstantMessaging BuddyList, WebLog, WikiLog, RssAggregator subscriptions for UniversalInbox, FOAF, new-book notifications, local-event notifications...

Yes, please! This is what I love about wiki, it's my personal knowledge store. Everything that I feel is lacking has to do with figuring out how to store and present the information in the most useful way and build API's into it for myself and others to mine it with.

I've been thinking a bit about the WillametteWeek article on IndyMedia. It the article is accurate it seems that Portland IndyMedia has taken a turn for the worse for precisely the reasons that JoFreeman talks about in the TheTyrannyOfStructurelessness. Their lack of formal structure allowed them to be taken over by spArk 4 and Deva's clique. Would Indymedia have faired better if instead of hosting the actual content they allowed their journalists to TrackBack stories to the appropriate section of the IndyMedia site? It might have limited the potential for censhorship (which in my experience is the death knell online communities) and made the takeover harder while still providing the value that a centralized source offers. Mmmm, meta-portals, I think I was asking about that a while ago in my own naive way.

Oh, and check out CycleCide christ's sake. What are you, living in a cage?

2003-05-11 - Ward's Take on WikiBlogs

I was talking to WardCunningham the other day at the first MossGathering. We were talking about blogs and wiki's and he was saying that what he wanted to see was a blog which commented on the refactoring process of a wiki. This would probably only work well on a wiki that's quite busy (MeatBall or WikiWiki) but it's a neat idea. It's also how I've been trying to use this blog on spack.org, the actual information goes into the wiki, the commentary on the information goes here.

It seems to work well so far, I get the satisfaction of first person writing (which wiki's don't provide very well), yet I still get to build my personal knowledgebase. I'm also hopeful that BackLinks from wiki pages to blog pages will provide interesting/useful context later on. We'll see how it progresses.

2003-05-11 - Growing herbs and Le Parkour

LeParkour is the French "art of movement", David Belle and his friend Sebastien Foucan are credited with it's creation. You need to go to their site and watch the video's. Reminds me of all the UrbanSpelunking I did as an early twenty something. All this via SaulAlbert's (who I worked with on the PicoPeer'ing agreement). Saul wrote a story about a meeting with the SpaceHijackers (see the SpaceHijackersManifesto), from there I randomly clicked on their ideas page and thus did I find Le Parkour and promptly wasted the next two hours of my day watching the movies on their web site.

Oh, and Teresa has been GrowingHerbs. It's surprisingly hard to find information on herb preparation. Not that hard, just harder then I thought it would be.

2003-05-09 - Lunch with Bill Loughborough

Moved to: http://adam.shand.net/iki/2003/lunch_with_bill_loughborough/

"We can't create a culture of freedom and innovation, but we can build a network which fosters its growth." -- The WirelessCommons

2003-05-07 - Stopping Spam with Client Side CPU Costs

DeclanMcCullagh writes about a recent proposal to stop spam by charging the spammers CPU cycles instead of money. Now I loath email blacklists (see SpamBlacklistsConsideredHarmful) and am incredibly leary of anything that makes it harder for email to get from point A to point B sucessfully. I think there will be significant unexpected social costs if we erect such barriers. Whether those costs are less then the costs of spam ... only time will tell.

My immediate concern is that I get very valuable (and completely unsolicited) email about community wireless networking all the time. I also send messages that I believe are valuable to people all the time. If I get a message which says "sorry you have to do X before you're allowed to email me" my general response is "rude bastard ... bye".

So while the hash cash proposal is primarily interesting to me because it doesn't involve money 5 and because it could be automated on the client side. I wonder how web mail companies would feel about this, I don't image hotmail will be thrilled about performing X arbitrarily expensive calculations on your behalf. And is there a middle ground between an operation which is "expensive enough" yet still "reasonable on a 386".

2003-05-02 - Managing Community

Coming from a computer security background the concept that you could put world editable content on a public web site and not only have the content survive, but have it flourish ... seemed impossibly naive. My adoption of MoinMoin for PersonalTelco's main web site a couple years ago totally restored my faith in humanity ... that maybe we really all could "just get along".

Unfortunately there's a sad side story here. It seems that there is something special about wiki's and who they encourage to participate that gives you a slanted view of humanity. While wiki restored my faith in humanity, turning PersonalTelco into a nonprofit last August has almost entirely destroyed it. I watched a bright, enthusiastic, positive group of people ... who were working on a project of almost impossible scoop (and kicking ass I might add) turn in to a bitter, despondant, ego craving bunch of morons. It was like magic ... just not the good kind.

I do need to take a certain amount of responsibility for this. My "management style" is somewhat hands off and at least some of this is due to my prolonged absense last fall and increasing burnout. Having watched a community group devolve I was struck today that there is so much useful information MeatBall that I just never found. My advice for my sucessor, is to read and learn from these pages. RewardReputation, DissuadeReputation, PunishReputation, DevolvePower and ConflictResolution. Doubtless there are other, equally important, pages that I've missed.

2003-05-01 - Emerging Technology, Emerging Man

CoryDoctorow has some great pictures of the EmergingTechnology conference and the EmergingMan party. GlennFleishman has pictures, as does DocSearls and PhilGyford has too. Oh and don't forget our wonderful hosts have pictures as well! Hrm, I know MattWestervelt and RichGibson have some as well but I'm not sure where they've put them.

The highlights are of course here, here and here. I guess I'm important enough to take pictures of at the party but not the con itself. :-)

2003-05-01 - Snippets

So I found JoFreeman's TheTyrannyOfStructurelessness via one of ClayShirky's posts to ManyToMany.

There have been some interesting discussions on the percieved failings of the CreativeCommons licenses, specifically to do with the fact that as part of licensing your work you agree that all the text you are publishing is available to be republished.

There's a new weboutliner demo floating around that looks interesting ...

2003-04-29 - Open Source Sucess Patterns

Reading the Blue Oxen paper called "An Introduction to Open Source". (download). It's an interesting study of two OpenSource communities, TouchGraph and SquirrelMail, much of it is obvious to anyone who has been involved in the community for any length of time, however their patterns for sucess at the end are interesting. All of these patterns ring a bell with my experiences with PersonalTelco, the most telling and unfortunate of them is that my abscence over the fall and recent burnout is probably partially responsible for my current frustrations.

  • Evolve the Community - It is extremely difficult to predict what kind of interest an open source project will attract. Designing an organizational structure for what might be, rather than what is will likely impede the project rather than facilitate it.

    SquirrelMail's organizational structure and processes emerged over time. Its system of subprojects and project leads worked because the code was modularized, and there was already an active community of participants from whom to draw. Had Luke Ehresman, SquirrelMail's founder, tried to impose this structure when he first started the project, it likely would have failed, because the necessary roles would not have been clear at that point, and there were no candidates to whom to assign those roles.

    Alex Shapiro, TouchGraph's creator, has not delegated CVS commit access to members of his communities, because he doesn't see the need, and he doesn't think his code is modular enough. He also recognizes that doing so would create unnecessary organizational overhead with no immediate benefits. Both projects have been reactive rather than proactive. They have allowed an organizational scheme to emerge, rather than attempting to impose one.

  • Lead by Example - To celebrate the one year anniversary of SquirrelMail, Ehresman wrote an essay describing the lessons he had learned. He noted that the more active the leader is, the more active the community will become. "A strong correlation exists between developer activity and my personal excitement and involvement in the project," Ehresman said. "Whenever I took a week or two off, not much development happened--on the flip side of that, when I was ecstatic about certain aspects of the project, developer response and activity was quite high. It is important that your developers see your enthusiasm so they can share in your excitement." As a corollary, Ehresman noted that participating on the project's public forums can have an important effect on a community. He said, "Being involved in the mailing lists is a never-ending job, but involvement as project leader is necessary! It helps a lot for users to see active involvement just as it's important for developers to see this".

    ... <snip> ...

  • Users Talk to Developers - With both TouchGraph and SquirrelMail, users and developers are part of the same community. They interact on the same public forums, and in both cases, many users become active members of the community by answering other users' questions.

    Not only are the communication barriers between users and developers small, the barrier for a user to become a developer is small. TouchGraph's most significant outside contributors were all TouchGraph users who found ways to improve TouchGraph's code. Several of SquirrelMail's current project leads, including overall lead Castello, initially joined the community as users, not developers.

2003-04-24 - Community Wireless Future Interview

I did an interview with Armin Medosch about the status of PersonalTelco and community wireless in general. It was fun, I ran into Armin through my work with the WirelessCommons and and the Pico Peer folks.

2003-04-22 - Ideas and Division

On SlashDot theCoder writes about the SecondDigitalDivide.

  • ... The first (and traditional) digital divide is between those who have the resources to get online and those who do not. However, I'm noticing a second division amoung those who are online -- those who are able to consume and create content and those who are only allowed to consume it. Most ISPs are moving towards the consume only model. Whether it's through artificial upload caps or through overly restrictive AUPs, it seems that most people are only clients on the Internet.

WarrenEllis talks about WhereIdeasComeFrom.

  • ... And for that brief moment where it's all flaring and welding together, you are Holy. You can't be touched. Something impossible and brilliant has happened and suddenly you understand what it would be like if Einstein's brain was placed into the body of a young tyrannosaur, stuffed full of amphetamines and suffused with Sex Radiation.

    ... It's ten past two in the morning, and I'm completely wired, caught up in the new thing, shivering and laughing and glowing in the dark. Just as well it's the middle of the night. No-one would be safe from me right now. I could read their minds and take over their heartbeats with a glare.

2003-04-21 - Gutenberg Radio

  • Alright, now if I can get it in MP3 and listen to it in the car I might just finally buy that iPod. I've been looking for something new to do with my commute time. More.

2003-04-21 - "Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights"

  • Good for TimRobbins. People being scared to speak their mind is bullshit, and deserves to be treated as such by those who aren't afraid. (From commondreams.org)

    ... I imagined our leaders going on television telling the citizens that although we all want to be at Ground Zero, we can't, but there is work that is needed to be done all over America. Our help is needed at community centers to tutor children, to teach them to read. Our work is needed at old-age homes to visit the lonely and infirmed; in gutted neighborhoods to rebuild housing and clean up parks, and convert abandoned lots to baseball fields.

    ... In this time when a citizenry applauds the liberation of a country as it lives in fear of its own freedom, when an administration official releases an attack ad questioning the patriotism of a legless Vietnam veteran running for Congress, when people all over the country fear reprisal if they use their right to free speech, it is time to get angry. It is time to get fierce. And it doesn't take much to shift the tide. My 11-year-old nephew, mentioned earlier, a shy kid who never talks in class, stood up to his history teacher who was questioning Susan's patriotism. "That's my aunt you're talking about. Stop it." And the stunned teacher backtracks and began stammering compliments in embarrassment.

2003-04-20 - Closer and Closer ...

  • So I've hacked the macro/PartialInclude.py macro into BlogIncludeMacro (very minor changes) so that it reverse sorts entries and only includes the most recent X items. I've also moved all the blog entries that were sequentially on AdamShand/Content to calendar pages (eg. AdamShand/2003-04-19 is today's). Update: I've now got show (permalink) and edit icon's working. Coolio.

2003-04-19 - The Marsh Arabs

I saw an amazing picture (by Nik Wheeler) of marshes near An Nasiriyah in the Tigris-Euphrates delta from 1974 in the Oregonian today (more pictures at the nytimes.com). The picture was beautiful and desolate at the same time. These tiny chained islands, made of matted reeds, afloat in a vast marsh. Each one with a small reed house, shaped as a half-cylinder, with boats, people and buffalo scattered throughout. They think that less then 10% of the original 7,700 square miles of marsh remain, largely destroyed by Saddam's regime after the uprisings in 1991. In looking for more pictures online I discovered that the people who lived there were called the Madan and had lived there for 5,000 years. I also discovered that there was a man called WilfredThesiger who had lived with them for years and written a book called "The Marsh Arabs" about his experiences.

  • ... it was the harsh existence of the Madan that attracted Wilfred Thesiger. Early in "The Marsh Arabs", the reader gains some idea of how WilfredThesiger lived when he recounts a sheikh's son explaining that the "Madan live like their buffaloes. Their houses are half under water, filled with mosquitos and fleas. If you try to sleep in one of them you. will probably get your face trodden on by buffaloes during the night". The scene grows even bleaker in later passages when you learn that the few strips of dry land in the deltas are inhabited by ferocious wild dogs which make it impossible to stray very far; many people get gored by wild pigs; houses catch fire with unnerving ease; and diseases like dysentery are rife. (Source kruse.co.uk)

2003-04-18 - Location Aware Computing

  • I went to my first IEEE meeting, the speaker was John David Miller from Intel's Emerging Platforms Lab. The topic was Location Aware Computing. The first thing that struck me was the depth to which the issues appeared to have been thought through, and the honesty (at least from an engineering point of view) which which they were addressing privacy and security concerns. A couple of notes.
  • Just as cell phones have created a new kind of tension between freinds and lovers (why weren't you answering your phone?), LAC will do this in a whole new way. "Honey, why couldn't I see where you were at lunch today?" ...
  • His description of room level location awareness, and discussing the example of the Pentagon where they don't want you to have too much information as you walk around the building (except perhaps in case of an emergency if you need to find an exit), unless you have some sort of clearance. This all brought back memories of reading Neuromancer and hacking in a virtual world. All this information makes rendering a virtual shadow of the real world possible ... the hacking will begin at 4:20am.
  • Despite his genuine appearing concerns about user privacy and security concerns, I think that the inevitable maturation of this technology and personal and corporate greed will mean the the end of personal privacy as we know it. If nothing else the spam is gonna suck.

2003-04-15 - Getting Wiki on BlogShares

  • Hrm, so I too am becoming fascinated with BlogShares, I wonder what I need to do to get my wiki listed as a blog there. Looks like I have to be able to ping weblogs.com, so I guess it's time to investigate what MoinMoin can actually do by way of XmlRpc. I wanna be the first WikiLog to be listed ;-). In the blog entries I try and keep the majority of the content on other wiki pages, and just have the blog be commentary and context, I bet BlogShares won't count links to myself as outgoing links ... hrm, might have to direct link in blog entries as well.

2003-04-14 - First Python Code, w00t!

  • Okay, so making progress, very slow, painfull progress ... but progress, see macro/HTML2.py. I updated the macro/HTML.py macro to allow arbitrary HTML on immutable pages. This now gives me a way of linking into external pages and off site. Next up, moving these blog entries onto subpages and getting a macro which will display the X most recent calendar pages. macro/IncludeCalendarPage.py looks like a reasonable place to start.

2003-04-14 - Making a Blog from a Wiki

  • I've been impressed with WebSeitz and DecafBad for quite a while ... so now it's my turn to see what I can do to make a blog'ish wiki. My goal is to do this with the functionality that MoinMoin offers me as much as possible, only extending it featurewise as a last resort (this decision is also helped by the fact that I'm a shitty programmer and am only just starting to learn Python). Right now I'm in the cosmetic stage, working on functionality will follow and probably take much longer. I guess what I'm trying to say is that this page is a design in progress. Expect it to be in flux.

2003-04-11 - A Gaggle of Manifesti

2003-04-10 - Emerging Technology Conference

  • Just got an invite to attend the O'Reilly Emerging Tech Conference, I went last year and had a great time hanging out with the FreeNetworks crowd. Now I just have to figure out how to afford it ... :-(

2003-04-09 - The Begininngs of a Blog

  • Partly as an excuse to mess around with wiki some more, partly cause I want somewhere to advertise "stuff about me" and partly just cause it seemed fun at the time. Based off my first attempt at a new spack.org FrontPage called ThinkingSpace ... here you go.

Drupal Migration

UPDATE: I have since migrated back from Drupal to my home brew MoinMoin Blog installation. In fact I believe that this is the last piece of content which I need to migrate.

Below are my experiences migrating from a wiki (MoinMoin) to Drupal. I'm still going forward so I'm obviously happy with Drupal, but there have definately been some disappointments, some of which I didn't expect. So for what it's worth ...

First the good about Drupal

First off I like that it's a blog tool, I've made various attempts at keeping a diary/journal/blog in the past and always failed cause it was a hassle ... so far I'm doing better with Drupal then I have with anything else in the past.

  • I love the taxonomy system. it's still not quite right, and I'm not sure i can explain why. It's certainly getting better but it's just doesn't work quite quite right yet.
  • I really like that it's easily themable. I was always fighting with Moin to change the way it looked ... and always felt like I was loosing the battle.
  • I really like it's wide range of usability. I like that I can keep my bookmarks, photo galleries, blogs etc.
  • I like that I can cut'n'paste HTML into a Drupal story/book page it deals with it moderatly gracefully just stripping out all HTML that isn't allowed. I don't trust other peoples sites and documents to stay available ... so if I really want to be able to reference it in the future I tend to make a local copy, and it's really nice if it's available and searchable via whatever CMS I'm using. I've spent *lots* of time converting HTML to wiki markup by hand and it gets old :)

  • I love that the developer community is friendly and open to new ideas, and always experimenting with how to do things better.

What I miss from wiki

Mostly what I miss is the inherent intertwingularity of a wiki. All the systems that wiki's have developed to intertwingle their data are hugely valuable. BackLinks, accidental linking, RecentChanges, Title and Word Indexes etc.

  • I really miss the ease of wiki markup for data entry. I've used a lot of wiki's now, and I've found that I'll use a wiki page for documentation before any other method (before HTML, before a word file or text file). It's just easier.
  • I like that my content was seperate from the markup. I didn't have to worry about generating correct HTML. If I want to change the way it renders I change the code/CSS and changes
  • I love the simplicity of wiki, I know that simplicity is at odds with features which is what made me investigate Drupal to start with but I do feel that the attitude that wiki developers often had that simpler is always better worked well.

Now what I don't like

  • I don't like that I have to do my writting in HTML. I don't want to have to think about whether I'm writing well formed HTML as I write, I just want to write. I find wiki mark up much easier to deal with this way, I've started writing my blogs in mozilla composer and then just cut'n'pasting the HTML into the Drupal text box.
  • I don't like that many of the modules which I consider crucial to my adoption of Drupal (image, weblink,taxonomy_dhtml, traceback, referrer block etc) second class citizens
  • Releases seem to get abandoned.

Wireless Commons at Boing Boing

Sweet, CoryDoctorow has written about the WirelessCommonsManifesto at BoingBoing.

  • Wireless Commons: new project to build an unwired world

    I'm part of a new umbrella group for organizing advocacy for and inter-connectivity among community wireless projects, called The Wireless Commons. The project is still forming up, but you can head over to the site and see the manifesto and the definition we're working with.

Why Alpha Male's Get all the Pussy

Halley Suitt explains why alpha males get all the pussy. The trick of course is to have something to say:

  • Which brings me to the second part of the pussy strategy -- the best looking girl at the party WILL talk to most Alpha Males and Alpha Male wannbes -- but you better have something halfway intelligent to say. More on that in the next lesson.

ClayShirky writes Customer-owned Networks: ZapMail and the Telecommunications Industry. It essentially seems a long way of showing that people will route around any percieved damage, what's wonderful is that humanities notion of damage seems to be broadening. It also nicely supports many aspects of the WirelessCommonsManifesto.

  • According to Metcalfe's Law, the value of an internet connection rises with the number of users on the network. However, the phone companies do not get to raise their prices in return for that increase in value. This is a matter of considerable frustration to them. The economic logic of the market suggests that capital should be invested by whoever captures the value of the investment. The telephone companies are using that argument to suggest that they should either be given monopoly pricing power over the last mile, or that they should be allowed to vertically integrate content with conduit. Either strategy would allow them to raise prices by locking out the competition, thus restoring their coercive power over the customer and helping them extract new revenues from their internet subscribers. However, a second possibility has appeared. If the economics of internet connectivity lets the user rather than the network operator capture the residual value of the network, the economics likewise suggest that the user should be the builder and owner of the network infrastructure.

    The creation of the fax network was the first time this happened, but it won't be the last. WiFi hubs and VoIP adapters allow the users to build out the edges of the network without needing to ask the phone companies for either help or permission. Thanks to the move from analog to digital networks, the telephone companies' most significant competition is now their customers, because if the customer can buy a simple device that makes wireless connectivity or IP phone calls possible, then anything the phone companies offer by way of competition is nothing more than the latest version of ZapMail.

I Can Hear You Talking Dirty

Did you know that Adam is often the first name when you sort an addressbook alphabetically? There's this interesting thing that happens when you put my number into your cell phone ... you call me. You forget to lock your phone and then you sit on it ... and your wiggling cheeks somehow manage to type out the correct sequence of numbers and arrows to call the first person in your addressbook.

I get to listen to you fight with your boss, coax your (((girl|boy)friend)|(wife|husband)) into having sex in the backyard and sometimes even get to listen to a concert for free. It has been pretty entertaining for the last several years, however I seem to have recently crossed one of those magical barriers where instead of happening every few weeks, it's happening every few days ... and mostly in the middle of the night. This gets annoying and makes Teresa grumpy. :-)

As a personal favor, please add an entry to your addressbook with the name AAAAA and have it call yourself. Please?

If you know an Aaron, they'll appreciate it also.

Thanks.

Partial Attention and the Enclosure Act

Continuous Partial Attention

I tried to express this concept, but didn't really suceed, when I wrote IntelligentAgent. In part I love the feeling of partial attention (registration required). The feeling of knowing a little about everything, watching trends develop everywhere, experimenting with new ... constantly. I've always been a better jack of all trades then I have been an expert, even when I was a little kid I knew I was destined to excel at very little but to do many things "pretty well".

Still, as I get older I have periods of rest which make me come to my senses. Denied of my ability to be connected, suddenly my brain and emotions start working. I feel more at ease, more alert, more interested ... even though I have less stimulous.

Ever since I first started working for Earthlight I remember feeling that "If I can just finish this project, I'll be caught up". Several jobs and ten years later that moment has never arrived. I think this is where much of my desire for a personal information system comes from ... another delusional belief that if I could only process and store all my information more efficently I would have more time to do what I wanted to be doing.

The Commons and the Enclosure Act

Ian Betteridge has seen the WirelessCommonsManifesto and wonders when there is going to be an Enclosure Act?

I hadn't heard of this before though I'd heard about much of the surrounding history. It seems like a reasonable way for the government/corporations to attempt to regulate wireless, don't force the issue by disallowing it (which would of course cause an civic outrage and all the unpleasant lobbying and trouble when citizens actually take the effort to show their opinions), but rather just raise the barrier in some way so that it's more hassle then it's worth for most people to bother, or becomes financially unfeasible for the smaller players.

Actually the fence requirement reminds me of the (recently removed?) laws in France where wireless signal wasn't allowed to cross streets. I should try and dig up a link for that and see if it's true.

Knowledge Based Economy

The first time I remember that I had any concept of what a knowledge based economy would mean was when I read BruceSterling's Islands in the Net.

There was a long time where everything I read about knowledge economies had the tone of it being a geek fantasy that no sensible person would ever take seriously.

It's interesting to see how things have changed.

Project Management and Issue Tracking

It's interesting, I'm still learning how to use my blog. I'm used to a wiki, I know where my data should go and what my options are. With Drupal there are too many options. So I just found this great new article on project management and how Jeffrey Shell built a home brew Zope solution after playing with all sorts of other solutions. Good stuff and interesting fodder in my "should I learn Python or PHP" battle (Python is winning but it's much harder for me because I have no object oriented programming experience).

Back to the issue at hand, I have a great link. Do I blog it (obviously what I'm doing), do I add it as a web link? Do I strip out all the links that are interesting and save them as links? What's the best way to preserve the information in such a way that I'll be able to find it again?

Logical Rudeness

I stumbled across this old posting from MarkPilgrim's blog. It beautifully gives words to a pet-frustration I've never been able to put into works. People who are logically rude. I don't mind being told I'm wrong, I don't mind being yelled at ... what pisses me off more then anything else is when people kill the discussion.

  • In college, I was a philosophy major, and I had a wonderful philosophy professor who wrote a wonderful article called Logical Rudeness. Philosophy is all about conversation, especially (in the last few hundred years) written conversation. One philosopher comes up with an idea and writes it down and publishes it. Other philosophers pick it apart, look for hidden ssumptions, look for leaps in logic, deny axioms, argue conclusions, split hairs, go every which way with it. This is logically polite. It adds to the conversation, the ongoing argument. The arguments run deep, and in ten thousand years they have not been resolved, nor will they be resolved in the next ten thousand years. That is irrelevant. The essence of philosophy is not the conclusion but the conversation. But along the way, and increasingly in modern times, there are a few philosophers who actively attack this conversation. There are philosophical systems which preclude further argument. If, for instance, you believe that thinking itself is a disease that must be cured, no philosophical argument can sway you. The act of making the argument, by definition, involves thinking, so it is simply giving further proof that the person making the argument is diseased. (I’m not making this up; there are philosophers who believe this.) This is logically rude, not simply because it is impervious to logic (although it is), but because it is a philosophy which denies other philosophers the chance to philosophize in return. It stops the conversation.

    Note that this is different, in an important way, from a philosopher (like, say, Kant) who believes that he has it all figured out and builds a comprehensive philosophical system to try to stomp on other philosophical systems. Lots of later philosophers argued with Kant; some accepted his premises and went in a different direction, others rejected his basic premises altogether. But as comprehensive as Kant’s system was, there was nothing in it that precluded arguing against it. Kant savaged all philosophers who had come before him, but in the end, he was logically polite. He added to the conversation, steered it in a new direction... but then the conversation continued.

Simple Tables with Only CSS

This is one of the things I've always used tables for and I have no idea how to do it with only CSS. I've tried all the sensible things I can think of and none of them work. What I want is this (excuse the wiki markup equivelent):

left

right

How do you do this with only CSS? I've tried using div and span tags and I can't get it to work ... help!

Update: So I figured it out thanks to some help from Michael Angeles.

It's actually pretty easy, I was doing it right except that I needed to float the first element to the right. Like this:

  • <div style="text-align: right; float: right;">align right</div> 
    <div style="text-align: left;">align left</div>
    

Do White People Smell Like Wet Dog?

The other day Teresa and I were having lunch with our hispanic friend Matt (his race becomes relevant in a moment, bear with me). We were talking about the fact that we'd quit smoking and he said that he could tell because we didn't smell like smokers anymore.

This led to a discussion about good and bad smells and eventually he said that he'd noticed that white people smell like wet dog. After a moment of confusion he elaborated, if a white person gets into a shower for about a minute (so they are completely wet but haven't really had a chance to soap or soak) and then get out, there is a distinct wet dog smell for a minute or so. He also said that it only seems to happen to white people, apparently wet black people smell like wet black people and wet hispanics smell like wet hispanics.

This was news to both of us, and we just laughed about it wondering if he was crazy.

The point of this was that we were just watching <cough> Jenny Jones </cough> and there was a preview for an upcoming show "White people that hate white people". One of the things that a whitey hating woman said was that white people "smell like wet dog and balogna".

Can anyone confirm or deny?

Contradiction and Ambiguity

  • "Conformity or rebellion?" "Neither one. Both ways are simple-minded - they are only for people who cannot cope with contradiction and ambiguity." -- NeilStephenson, "The Diamond Age"

Reading AdBusters today I saw full page ad which had a picture of a drab suburban man looking upwards. There's a building of some sort in the background. The only text is at the bottom and reads "fantasize about nihilism". Something about this struck a chord in me and I remembered sitting in my seat at "Fight Club" revelling in the destruction of the credit towers with The Pixies playing "Where is my mind". Something about that moment was just perfect ... though the irony of the entire situation wasn't lost on me.

My fascination with anarchy and nihilism has always confused me. There is some primal part of me that longs for the release into chaos, to simply fight for survival rather then have to plan for it.

What's stranger is that as I get older I'm starting to feel more and more lost without a home. I grew up moving houses and countries and have continued with that since I left home. I find myself jeleous of people everytime I'm with a friend who runs into a friend at some random event ... at the guy in line ahead of me who knows the shop keeper by name ... chatting with the local bartender as you pass through on your way to the pool table. Where is this desire for roots and community coming from? And stranger, why isn't it subsuming my desire for chaos?

Quitting: Fake Cigarettes and a Toilet Full of Hair

I've given up on the "day X" QuittingSmoking shit. Today Teresa bought a pack of herbal cigarettes ... honey something or others, when I got home around 11pm (I was at our first annual meeting for PersonalTelco) she was coughing up a lung ... aparently she'd had two of the "herbal (but not that herbal) cigarettes". Without the nicotine I think they just aren't quite the same.

Oh and speaking of stupidity, once again I've shaved my head in the middle of winter. Not sure how I manage to do that every year, despite the fact that every year I swear that I'll never do it again. Teresa shaved my head into the toilet and when she was done I stood there and pissed into it.

For reasons I don't yet understand there is something quite blasphemous about pissing into a toilet full of your own hair. It felt that I was in the middle of performing some ancient ritual that I didn't fully comprehend the significance of.

Quitting: The Patch is a Lie (day 4)

I am now convinced that the patch is a lie. Either they have no nicotine in them or my skin is strangely resistant to infiltration by the alien substance (unlike my lungs).

Yesterday I forgot to put on the patch and I didn't even notice until 11:30 at night when I went to bed. Now if I'd been wearing it for a month like the good boy you're supposed to be I might understand that, but surely it takes longer then three days to quit? Sure as hell has seemed like that over past attempts.

I think the patch manufactorers are selling sticky pieces of plastic at outrageous price. Sneaky fuckers.

Quitting: Trial by Fire (day3)

So it was a friends birthday party last night. We all went out to Bush Garden (a sushi/karoke bar). Teresa was fine because there was so much second hand smoke, she said it was actually easier for her there then at home or work, but I was having a hell of a time. It was under control but I really missed just having something to do with my hands.

I remembered that teresa's old room mate Liv used to smoke herbal cigarettes and so I started to ask if anyone know where to buy them or get them.

I finally got around to doing some googling and found out that there appears to be one major brand of "herbal cigarette" and it's called "Smokin' Joes" and they've recent been investigated (and fined?) for saying that their cigarettes are healthy. As far as I can tell they aren't any worse for you then normal cigarettes (tar and carbon monoxide) but they still aren't healthy.

There's also a lot of anti-smoking propaganda about herbal cigarettes being a tool of the tabacco companies to legally market and sell smokes to kids, presumably in the hopes of selling them real ones "once they grow up". gotta say that makes a certain amount of sense cause who other then sad fuckers like me with an oral fixation would want a herbal cigarette?

Quitting: Grumpy ... (day 2)

It must have taken me 45 minutes to fall asleep last night. I know that's not bad for many but I'm normally asleep around the time my head hits the pillow. If I'm awake after said hitting, it's typically followed shortly by annoyance as I realise that I'm not asleep :-).

This morning I forgot to put a patch on until I was in line at US Bank trying to wire Shannon some money, didn't seem to make that much difference. I wonder if what's really important about the patch is the viceral reminder that you are committed to quitting.

Quitting Smoking (day 1)

So Teresa and I decided that we were gonna quit smoking (again). We went out briefly last night, smoked most of a pack of cigarettes (I was largely procrastinating some writing I should have been doing) over a couple of beers and had exactly one cigarette left when we went home.

It was all planned out in my head, I was gonna smoke that last cigarette this morning ... I was all mentally prepared for it and waiting for that last fling with addiction. However teresa got up before me and either smoked it herself or threw it away so neither of us would indulge. Dammit!

So now I'm at work, grumpy, with a patch on, and all I really want to do is find a smoker, punch them in the head and steal their pack for one quick, last fling.

Ahhh, addiction.

Quitting: Last Day

Overlapping trying to quit smoking with a trip to Defcon in LasVegasNevada was about as much of a sucess as anticipated. We made it through Thursday and caved Friday night after several beers. Thursday was token smoking, we had one or two each. Friday everything was back on full force, coffee and cigarettes in the morning. It was surprsing though that even after only a couple days of not smoking we both noticed on Friday morning that we tasted like shit from having a cigarette the night before.

Today I feel fine. I forgot to put the patch on this morning as I left for work but I didn't even think about smoking until I got into my car for lunch. Now I want a cigarette, but I'll be okay for the day I think.

Quitting: Day 4

Teresa and I leave for LasVegasNevada today at about about 4:00PM. I'm gonna speak at Defcon about CaptivePortals and other fun stuff. I'm grumpy as shit, exhasted and mildly ill. Fuck knows if from quitting, getting sick or what. Oh, and I didn't put on a patch today, fuck the patch, I'll deal with whatever mental anguish comes my way, I'm tired of feeling like shit. I hope this will get it over with quicker.

Hrm, just talked to Joel. He says I've got 72 hours when my body/brain's all fucked up. He also says that in three weeks or so food will start to taste really good. Maybe that's the real reason people put on weight when they quit, foods worth eating again!

Quitting: Day 3

Felt like crap all day. I've almost had a headache, had an upset stomach, I'm stressed about talking at Defcon, my back hurts, my wrists are giving me shit again ... I'm getting pretty fucking grumpy. I heard an interesting thing the other day though, aparently smoking reduces blood flow to your extremities, I'm wondering if that's part of the reason why I've been having problems with my wrists from typing over the last year or so.

Damn Teresa ... she's weathering this much better then I am. She is being very sweet about me being bitchy though. Just as well one of us has this under control. Last time we tried to quit she lost it and I was fine ... think I liked that better!

Quitting: Day 2

I'm a little run down but still no big deal, or so I thought until Teresa and I tried to play tennis. Ugg, I haven't been that apathectic for a while.

Quitting: Day 1

I snagged the last one in our pack of Malborough's on the way out the door and threw the empty pack in the trash. Mmmmm the end of nicotine, wish I could say the last one tasted "so good" but it didn't, just like any old cigarette (course it wasn't a Camel :-)). When I got to work I slapped on a patch when I got to work. Most of the day has been no problem, certain things (as always) trigger my desire to smoke. Driving home, finishing eating dininer, drinking etc.

Quitting Smoking, The Beginning

QuittingSmoking is harder then I'd ever thought. I know that it's hard but it's different kind of hard then I'd expected. I'd gotten acclimatized to the addiction convincing you that "smoking one more is okay, or it doesn't matter, or ..." but I wasn't prepared for the physical assault that happened once I made up my mind. So I decided to keep a daily diary/weblog of my experiences quitting for (hopefully) the final time.

  • 1 To be fair I have to mention that mounting job responsibilities and a growing frustration with my inability to coordinate a social life played their part.

  • 2 Unlike say, MicrosoftWindows which had to have entire protocols reverse engineered and software projects begun in order to have any semblance of compatibility.

  • 3 My thoughts on the requirements are laid out in the WirelessCommonsDefinition

  • 4 Oooh, maybe I should start doing spack like spAck :-?

  • 5 Money is bad because automated transfers of money generally involve credit cards which tends to exclude minors, people with bad credit, people that opt our of the credit system, criminals etc.

AdamShand/AllEntries (last edited 2007-10-14 05:17:35 by AdamShand)