Sunday, August 1, 2004

End of month misc

Caught The Bourne Supremacy last night. My review: Eh. It wasn't bad and I'd definitely watch it on cable but it seemed to be lacking something. I thought the ending looked tacked on and a reliable source has told me it was added after the initial ending was tested and found to be too ambiguous. Was an ok movie for a summer night getaway. I think the theater we saw it in didn't plan for it to get many people because they ran it in the theater which is the hardest to get to (up multiple escalators, and most importantly, several levels removed from a concession stand).


I'm returning to Chicago at the end of the week to do more estate disposal stuff. Fun fun fun. Will be there Friday through Monday, returning Monday night.

Obscure Perl comment:

From the totally obscure department...I have a script I wrote on June 28, 1998. I know this because the name of the script is x980628. Naming things wasn't one of my strong points at IBM.

Anyway, this script has a singular purpose: run through a two column list, ignore the first column (just copy it to STDOUT), and run a reverse DNS lookup on the IP address in the second column. I've run this script literally thousands of times over the years. I've been very annoyed that output got buffered if you piped the output to a file.

I need to point out here, briefly, that I'm a pretty good Perl programmer. Not a master, I hate the object oriented Perl and generally avoid it to this day, but otherwise, I think I'm pretty good.

So, why on earth did it take me, what, six years to realize all I had to add was (wait for it):

$| = 1;
to the stupid program? I mean, I used that all over the place in tens if not hundreds of other programs (including the infamous nph-index script that slowed to a crawl for years).


Our ever growing MP3 collection

I moved our mp3 collection to a 120Gb RAID array earlier in the month. We have about 28 days' worth of music encoded (I'd guess 99% from CDs we own in case there are any RIAA weenies reading this). With that much time invested in ripping the CDs I decided I didn't want to run the risk of losing it all in case a drive died. I looked into backups but why bother with backups when I can create a RAID array easily under OS X? Anyway, I also found an entire box of CDs from when I moved from 99 Battery Place to Sydney in 2000, an entire case which I hadn't listened to or ripped in over four years. So that's this weeks project: ripping another 40 or so CDs.

Ok, that's one of this week's projects.

So, how's the weather?

Rainy, humid. I could use a dry stretch here. It gets tiresome hiding in the rooms which have A/C. The top floor gets into the 90s during the day and that's with the windows opened.


I'm researching server planning for a friend's startup. Also looking at MovableType 3.1 now that they've re-re-jiggered their licensing. I continue to toy with getting a G5 Macintosh but I think I will put that on hold until after the wedding and possibly honeymoon. I may be starting another blog, mostly as a place to test some ideas out and not intended to be a real “blog”.

e.p.c. posted this at 22:58 GMT on 1-Aug-2004 .

Monday, August 2, 2004

Testing ecto

Test posting with ecto.

e.p.c. posted this at 23:54 GMT on 2-Aug-2004 .

Tuesday, August 3, 2004

Illinois GOP can't find homegrown candidate, outsources US Senate race

Seems the Illinois Republican honchos can't find anyone upstate or downstate to take on Barack Obama, so they're considering outsourcing the task to Alan Keyes of Maryland: GOP wooing Keyes to take on Obama

e.p.c. posted this at 14:59 GMT on 3-Aug-2004 .

Slashdot: 503

So, what's the deal with /. these days? For the past couple of days I’ve been getting 500 and 503 errors from the site? DDOS attack?

e.p.c. posted this at 15:33 GMT on 3-Aug-2004 .

Meteor Over Manhattan

I just saw a meteor drop over the southern tip of Manhattan. Not sure if that's a good sign or not.

I was sitting on the promenade facing west when what I thought was a plane caught my eye, traveling from behind me to the south across the bay between the Statue of Liberty and the Battery. I then realized it couldn't be a plane because it was traveling very fast and was near-vertical.

It disappeared at about 25°-30° from the horizontal.

I had no sense of depth — for all I know it was over NJ the entire time.

I'll take it as a propitious sign, 'cause I really can't do with more bad or grim news, or terror warnings, etc.

e.p.c. posted this at 23:47 GMT on 3-Aug-2004 .

Friday, August 6, 2004


I'm off again to Chicago for the weekend... am hoping to resolve most of the remaining estate issues.

e.p.c. posted this at 00:26 GMT on 6-Aug-2004 .

Monday, August 9, 2004

Military service of politicians and a few bloggers

e.p.c. posted this at 09:26 GMT on 9-Aug-2004 .

Five killed in Japan nuclear plant accident

No radiation escaped. Occurs on the 59th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.

e.p.c. posted this at 09:28 GMT on 9-Aug-2004 .

KVRX posts live mp3s of Magnetic Fields, others

e.p.c. posted this at 09:31 GMT on 9-Aug-2004 .

Athens Says It's On Track

Amazing what the sheer panic incurred by realizing that you can't postpone the Games does for motivation.

e.p.c. posted this at 09:48 GMT on 9-Aug-2004 .

Thursday, August 12, 2004

7 World Trade Center

Went for a walk to the new location of the Bowling Green post office (it's moved to the West Broadway end of the Church Street Station post office) and took a few pictures with my Nokia 6820 phone (when is it going to be safe to just call these things tricorders?)

7 World Trade Center v2
Photo of 7 World Trade Center

Photos of the new 7 World Trade Center taken with a Nokia 6820 on August 11, 2004.

e.p.c. posted this at 15:02 GMT on 12-Aug-2004 from Brooklyn, NY.

ecto for blogging

I'm liking using it on my mac for now, there's a version available for Windows as well.

One wish: I'd like to be able to just write like it's a word processor, like a WYSIWYG mode. Sure, it wouldn't be as powerful as being able to enter all HTML by hand but most of my entries don't have sophisticated HTML.

I have tested a total of 1 packages for blogging. I take that back, I used Radio Userland for several years, so I've tested two client packages. I rank ecto far above Radio Userland.

e.p.c. posted this at 17:37 GMT on 12-Aug-2004 .

gmodeler: UML modelling online

e.p.c. posted this at 21:44 GMT on 12-Aug-2004 .

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Any ssh whizzes in the house?

I noticed that someone / some thing is knocking on the sshd port of our home server lately. It looks like a script of some kind, checking for users root, admin, test, guest, and user.

I tightened up the sshd_config file a bit (turned off password authentication, relying entirely on keys). One thing which intrigues me is whether or not I can use host keys to further lock down connecting to the sshd server. My initial read of the various sshd references I could find seemed to indicate that this is possible but on testing I was able to connect with a client which I'd verified wasn't in /etc/ssh_known_hosts or ~/.ssh/known_hosts.

I can't do DNS or IP-address restrictions because I connect from various WiFi and Hotel broadband hookups and won't know the address or hostname until I actually connect.

Any ideas? (I'm looking at you, Chet).

e.p.c. posted this at 23:42 GMT on 14-Aug-2004 . , Comments [2]

Sunday, August 15, 2004

NBC's Coverage Of The Olympic Games Sucks, world stunned.

Via Airbag - Sour Gyros. NBC is the world's gold medal champion in providing sucktacular coverage of one of humanities better events.I especially like how Bob Costas and Katie Couric feel compelled to narrate everything about the ceremony.

I don't miss working on the Olympic Games, I do miss the 24 channels of commercial free digital television we got in the operations centers.

e.p.c. posted this at 00:55 GMT on 15-Aug-2004 .

Monday, August 16, 2004

Need a tool: visual software sketchbook thingy

I'm in Seattle temporarily, doing some work for a friend and while trying to land a client in NYC.

I realized I have a problem: I can't think online anymore.

What I mean is, I used to be able to work through ideas, jottings, and diagrams on a computer, using something as simple as MS Word (ok, MS Word is not the best example, but my point is I did this with no fancy E-R diagramming tools, not Visio, etc).

Anyway, I can't do it now. I keep needing to grab a pad of paper and scratch things out, drawing arrows and notations etc.

All fine and good, but I really need to be able to do this online so I can reference and pull in information, and then take whatever mess I've made and turn it into something else (a document, a presentation, a spreadsheet).

I'm not even sure what I'm looking for, something that combines Visio (a very light, and simple Visio please) with a database or way of tagging bits of info, with some elements of a spreadsheet and MS Project thrown in for good measure.

Any ideas? Send them as email or add comments please...

Mod: would help if I could spell

e.p.c. posted this at 14:29 GMT on 16-Aug-2004 . , Comments [6]

Friday, August 20, 2004

Back home

I'm back in Brooklyn...I flew back Wednesday afternoon after discovering a midday flight from Seattle which would get me home by midnight (avoiding the red-eye I'd planned to take).

Still, tired.

e.p.c. posted this at 01:47 GMT on 20-Aug-2004 .

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Stunning example of CSS

Via CSS Vault � The Web's CSS Site, I came across Version 2, a writeup of the redesign for I know nothing about design, except that I know nothing about design, but this site is a great example of what you can do by combining css, javascript and clean xhtml. (no, not this site, the site).

e.p.c. posted this at 19:05 GMT on 21-Aug-2004 .

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Tufte has an RSS feed

Just noticed that there is an RSS feed for the Edward Tufte: Ask E.T. forum here.

e.p.c. posted this at 22:21 GMT on 22-Aug-2004 .

Monday, August 23, 2004

BCCI: How Kerry broke Bush's bank

"Follow the Money" by David Sirota and Jonathan Baskin How John Kerry busted the terrorists' favorite bank:
Two decades ago, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) was a highly respected financial titan. In 1987, when its subsidiary helped finance a deal involving Texas oilman George W. Bush, the bank appeared to be a reputable institution, with attractive branch offices, a traveler's check business, and a solid reputation for financing international trade. It had high-powered allies in Washington and boasted relationships with respected figures around the world.
All that changed in early 1988, when John Kerry, then a young senator from Massachusetts, decided to probe the finances of Latin American drug cartels. Over the next three years, Kerry fought against intense opposition from vested interests at home and abroad, from senior members of his own party; and from the Reagan and Bush administrations, none of whom were eager to see him succeed.

e.p.c. posted this at 16:12 GMT on 23-Aug-2004 .

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

gmail invites

I have six gmail invites. If you want one add a comment to this post with your email address (which, in theory, won't be exposed to the various spam harvesters which hit this site).

e.p.c. posted this at 17:16 GMT on 25-Aug-2004 .

Bad day in Najaf [back-to-iraq 3.0]

Back to Iraq 3.0: Bad day in Najaf: I was on the roof trying to get my BGan to connect when Najaf's finest burst onto the roof with a Kalashnikov and order me and the other journalists down to the lobby. The cops had raided the hotel and forced all the journalists out onto the street. We were terrified. The cops yelled at us and pointed their weapons toward us. Several large trucks were waiting and knew we would be loaded onto them. Then they started shooting.

e.p.c. posted this at 21:30 GMT on 25-Aug-2004 .

Friday, August 27, 2004

Working In On Demand Time

In Joi Ito's Web: Conference call surfing I read an eerily familiar description of Joi Ito's day. When I was at IBM this was the typical day: wake up (somewhere, home, hotel, office), nudge computer awake and check out whatever I/Ms arrived while I was sleeping (assuming I was online).

For awhile, I had a one hour drive from Poughkeepsie to Armonk. I'd clear out my voicemail before leaving home, by the time I'd arrive in Armonk it'd be filled to capacity again (usually resulting in one or more bitter PROFS emails from someone, somewhere complaining that I was not professional enough to be IBM's alleged Corporate Webmaster dude).

I have to say, for the first couple years it was fun. If your job is entirely being a mediator of communications this might not be such a bad job. If your job isn't to be Mr. always-connected-always-communicating then it's not so fun. Eventually the expectation is set that you're always online, always responsive. It's unprofessional to take a time-out or a break.

Enough time has passed that I can look back and recognize that I really didn't function so well as super-techie/manager/intermediary. Dropping any one of the tasks (as I did for the Sydney Olympics) would have made my life much better. To the people who can handle it all and enjoy it my hat's off to you.

e.p.c. posted this at 00:00 GMT on 27-Aug-2004 .

Escaping the RNC

We are escaping to Amagansett for the coming week.

For me, it's a matter of how many times I can sit on the promenade with Frisket and listen to delegates point at the Salomon Smith Barney building and say that That's where the World Trade Center was until the Iraqi's blew it up, or have someone ask me Do you support the President?, or Can I share my personal vision of God with you?

None of these are particularly unique to RNC delegates, however the frequency of these inanities has increased dramatically in the past month, moreso this past week. When asked politely, I advise on where various buildings once stood (I think they get confused by the apparent gap in the skyline between the Woolworth and SSB buildings), I decline to discuss religion or politics (and often get to instruct a bit on the nature of the disproportionate presence of Jehovah's Witnesses in the neighborhood).

I think visitors mistake New York City for this large overwhelming place where we all must be all-so-interested in everything that goes on. Truth be told, I live in a small town where I walk a block to get groceries and a couple more blocks to get the morning bagel. I don't drive, nor do I really need to drive. I live across a river from another collection of towns, each with its own character and population. For the most part, I don't care what visitors think, not because their opinion isn't valid or worthwhile, it just has no value to me personally.

It's not distaste, it's disinterest.

Furthermore, the transit system is already a mess (I thought it was solely due to trains being stopped at Penn Station but apparently there was a partial building collapse a couple blocks away that slowed down the 2/3). Lisa's company has told staff not to come in to work next week, either to work from home or some other location like Armonk or White Plains.

So, we will flee to Amagansett.

e.p.c. posted this at 00:55 GMT on 27-Aug-2004 .

Sunday, August 29, 2004

IBM Needs a Better Mouse Button

I bought a new IBM Thinkpad x31 back in May. The left mouse button (I'm not sure it can really be called a mouse button) is already showing signs of wear and the stupid thing is only three months old! My previous system, an IBM Thinkpad x21 wore out the left button at two years (I initially replaced it with the rubber cap from the useless middle button, that too wore out).

The frustrating thing is you can't even order these things as a separate FRU. You have to send in the unit for repair.

e.p.c. posted this at 10:26 GMT on 29-Aug-2004 .

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Live by the meme, die by the meme

So, a programmer at Friendster was Fired for Blogging (Jeremy Zawodny's blog). Yeah, I know it's only one side of the story but you know what, Friendster lives or dies by word of mouth/mail/IM. I found out about it through 'blogs, and I've now cancelled . No loss to me, besides Frisket still has more Friendsters than I did.

If all you are selling reputation and connections, you can't afford to blow your credibility like this. I don't know the facts, but, more important than that, I don't care.

Another perspective can be found here: On Troutgirl's Getting Fired for Blogging [Updated].

e.p.c. posted this at 16:17 GMT on 31-Aug-2004 .

No More Games

Fellow ex-Olympian Paul writes about the end of the Athens Olympic Games: More Random Thoughts: Athens 2004 draws to a close

e.p.c. posted this at 16:32 GMT on 31-Aug-2004 .

Slightly acerbic and eccentric dog walker who masquerades as a web developer and occasional CTO.

Spent five years running the technology side of the circus known as

More about me here.