Monday, May 30, 2011

art imitates life

today's xkcd

done and done

phew. My knees hurt like the dickens right now. I crawled around on them all day yesterday drilling holes with the hole saw, running wire, looking underneath stuff to figure out why the hell the wires weren't working, yelling at my wife for things I did because I'm a fully actualized human being, that sort of thing.
"Where the hell is this part, and why did you move it?"
Andrea doesn't tell me to fuck off.
I find part in second place I look, a more logical place than the first place. I feel like a heel, say sorry.
Rinse-repeat for every component and wire in the house.

We did manage to destroy a vase, attempting to move furniture with it on top. As soon as it happened I just seethed in rage at our collective stupidity. There were two of us, and we both missed it. I fear for our unborn child's safety. Who moves furniture with fragile things delicately balanced on top? Two morons in a house armed with power tools.

So the hole drilling went according to plan thanks to the engineers who came before me. The hole saw was designed in such a manner that the bolt would come loose after some sawing and make a horrible sound. This horrible ound was the drill not destroying itself or my hand as it bound up on the hardwood floor. I would not have thought of something like that in my own hand saw invention and people would have died.

Fun things I got to do when moving an entertainment center 3 feet:
  • Evaluate all components. Do I really need a DVD player when I have a PS3 sitting in the entertainment center? A CD player? We don't even have CDs on the ground floor.
  • Finally get the PS3 to stream from my computer - that's one step closer to "cable? What cable?" (err, satellite but same difference)
  • Figure out why my subwoofer hasn't worked for a year - it's amped so needed to go into the Pre-Out plug on the back of my receiver. Also realized Surround Sound speakers shouldn't be plugged into "Rear Surround Sound" unless they're actually, you know, behind you.
  • Had my wife comment "wow it sounds like we're actually using that sound system now" - I'm going to play Mortal Kombat for 4 days showing her just how much we're using it.
  • Fatality.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Rational Drill Holing

So I've figured out a way to drill holes all over my living room floor and still do it tastefully.
Behold, the grommet:
These are cord organizers for the desk, but a couple in the corners of a room will be welcome by any future home-owner. The best part about installing grommets is I get to use this:

I'm punching two holes in the floor, one near the edge of the wall by the fireplace, one near the other side of the room. I'll run the speaker wire under the floor, and pop it up through the grommets on the other side. I'm not sure if I'll have to glue the grommets into place or anything like that; we'll have to wait and see. Perhaps something heavier duty (metal instead of plastic) should be installed.
Who knows.
I went with 2" grommets with the assumption that someone may want to run cable, 4 speaker wires, and ethernet through the same hole at any point, so make the two big enough to accommodate that.

So here's to rational acts of destruction.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Eli Pariser: Beware online "filter bubbles"

Important enough to repost. H/T to my neighbor Ben who shared it on Google Reader

Eli Pariser: Beware online "filter bubbles": "

eight times over

For starters, we're having a girl. Our name debate is focused.
And, upon instructions from my wife, private. Sorry. :)

I want to be laying around on the couch all day today. Instead, I'm running wires, disconnecting and reconnecting stereo equipment, stuff I believe I should only do if we were (1) moving or (2) selling off everything for drug money.

But my wife is nesting, her mother is the crowbar with which to exert extra leverage, and I'm merely a hapless sod who doesn't have much of an opinion on the layout. Don't touch my office, don't disconnect the internet. Those are my rules for living.

So the entertainment center's being moved a total of 4 feet, on the other side of a wall. I ventured knocking the wall down, but counter arguments such as "resale value" and "load bearing" and "you're an idiot" all came up.

I remember the heady optimism when we first moved into the house. "This is our house! We don't have a security deposit! Drill baby drill!" I dropped holes all along the edges of our dining room, behind furniture I assumed would be there forever. Turns out, you eventually want to sell the house, and people greet swiss-cheese holed hardwood floors with skepticism. Gorram pharisees if you ask me.
(nobody does)
So run wire, no willy nilly drilly drilly, set up entertainment center in new room. That's all weekend I suspect.

Argh. I have so few days left without 24-7 vigilance protecting a child attempting to kill herself repeatedly with everything in our house.

It's just about enough to make a grown man cry.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

stay very calm

I returned from lunch today to find a missing iPod.
This has angered me greatly. I suppose it's my fault for leaving it out; I've done it every single day for the last year but yeah, I hadn't given notice.




Words don't describe the rage.
It's my birthday. So maybe this is someone's terrible idea: "hey, I'll load a couple of CDs on his iPod" or "haha it's hilarious if he thinks someone stole his iPod".

This could be a terrible misunderstanding.
Either way, I have a few days to consider my options.
I must remain very, very calm and not do anything rash or punitive.
I know nothing, and my rage has only a faceless target, so it must dissipate in healthy outlets.

But I smell blood in the water.


Happy birthday to me.
This was an eventful year. I got someone pregnant on purpose. It's almost like reverse suicide. Screw you universe, now there's more of me!
And at the same time, life as you knew it is over.

To reinforce this, we gave away my couch to my brother, and we got a dining room set.
We currently have no couch. It is terrible.
A new one is being delivered on Friday.

My problems are great.

Happy Birthday to me, indeed.
Next one's gonna be a bit different.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

everyone hates politics but me

One of the big fears I've had for a long time is the dystopian future of tyrannical oppression outlined in 1984 and Brave New World. Michigan State offered classes on the problems with dystopia actually - the teacher's name (shit you not) was Vince Lombardi. Maybe he still teaches, I'm not sure and I'm not doing the research. (that sounds so petty in the internet era; it's not like I'd hire a private dick to find the guy with only a last known whereabouts. I could probably just google his name and MSU to figure it out. This self-condemnation has actually taken longer to write than researching it, but at this point it's all about the lack of principle of the thing.)
Anyhow, dystopias worry me. We're primed for one too; we resemble a fascist democracy in a fair amount of ways. Jack booted thugs are everywhere, the goal is to keep them away from the levers of power. But we've got our jack-booted thugs installed in high places - General Hayden was a great example of one. (see the recent New Yorker piece about his time subverting the Constitution and the wireless wiretapping).
The big concern is how can the system be attacked. The founding fathers did a pretty good job of it, namely:
  • We're a republic, not a democracy, thus less vulnerable to mob rule
  • The three branches naturally offset each other with natural checks
  • There's some encapsulation of the federal and state governments(admittedly less post Civil War)
  • three different methods of election make it harder to "hack the system"
  • the Bill of Rights provides further protections and enumerations of the rights of citizens, making it more likely they can assert change if the system is compromised.
The biggest weakness to me is the judiciary. If you're thinking long term and playing for keeps, that's the lynchpin. If you look at it right now, it's broken. Clarence Thomas fails to recuse himself on numerous occasions, Scalia has begun overturning older Scalia decisions, and Roberts lied his way into the job and seems to be quite ideological in judgements thus far.
(I don't blame him so much for lying his way in; interviews are like that, Congress or no. "Of COURSE I work well with others, and can bounce back from distraction easily!" You never give them a real answer for "so what's your biggest weakness?" - why would you expect a judge to do differently?)
Whether it stays broken or not, they've done significant damage. Citizens United allows for unlimited corporate spending in campaigns, and it wreaked havoc in 2010.
I thought it might be over. . . the Forces Of Evil had triumphed. The corporatists had won. By extension, fascism had won. "Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." - Mussolini
And boy, did they try to finish the job.
Anti-union bills have popped up everywhere the corporatists won - Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, and more. The Republicans in the Senate voted TODAY to end Medicare as we know it. This is more hilarious because they've completely misdiagnosed the problem in a dazzling display of willful ignorance - health care costs are the issue, not medicare costs. Hence the Affordable Care Act that was fought over throughout 2009, which the CBO stated will save Medicare in excess of $400 trillion a year*.
The end result of all of this is pretty hilarious - Democrats are sweeping special elections (NY-26 the latest, Hochul winning in a R+6 congresisonal district) and recalls are moving forward in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio.
Most of the freshmen congressmen who voted to end Medicare are probably done for.
I'd like to say the Unless was a long shot.
I'd like to say "not even the DEMOCRATS can fuck this up."
But I don't believe in Santa Claus.
Steny Hoyer came out today to say "Sure, Medicare's on the table in the deficit talks."
Because, why not, right Steny? The first clear position where Democrats could define it as "Us vs Them", and you just give away the advantage. I want to come work for you, just so I can have salary negotiations with you. Finally break that six figure mark I lie so often about breaking.
Naturally, it's because he's not really One Of Us. The Democrats that represent the non-elite are not all of the democrats. Many of them are simply vampiric doppelgangers who take positions like a democrat to trick people into voting for them, but behave exactly as their corporatist masters tell them to. (Sen Landrieu is another example of this behavior)
It's god damned frustrating.
The stakes are HIGH these days. But the tide looks like it's turning, thanks to the activists. Freedom's a funny thing. The masters never want it, and grudgingly give it to survive the pitchfork wielding mobs. But as soon as you put the pitchforks down, they'll try and steal it away.
Don't put the pitchforks down, guys.

(also, pitchfork has a great lineup this year!)

*some numbers unverified because of my earlier stance on researching within this blog post)

Girl you've got hourglass eyes

I uttered the words, "I didn't know what I wanted to do in college" for probably the billionth time today. I totally knew what I wanted to do - party my balls off.
Embarrassingly Banal Mission Accomplished.

I read about a teacher today in LA who had 90 pages of her blog pulled out as proof she wasn't teaching X% of the time. What the fuck.
So let's get some stuff out of the way about me:
I don't trust the corporation to keep my best interests at heart.
Consequently, I am a better mercenary than equity holder.

This holds a raft of implications with it.
Mostly, I get to carry grenades.

I'm easily distracted by horizontal rules. Look, here's another!

My wife is 5 months pregnant. (this should have been my first item I bet) I'm currently in a death-struggle to name him Raistlin if he's a boy. I'm unsure if I'm winning, and if that means my unborn child is losing. Personally I'd like to think it means nerds all over are winning. I also suggested Oscar but my wife has something against the people of Mexico.

If it's a girl, it'll probably be Winnie. My wife floated it first; I'm of the opinion that if her father is going to call her Winnie the Pooh (and Fuck yes I would) she's just got no chance in this world. She's also suggested Lottie - I like that one a lot because we first met at a bar named Lottie's. It's romantic and shit.
Plus it's a rare name that you never hear anymore. (Audience Wag: there's a reason for that)

I'm turning 36 this weekend, and finding out the sex of my child at the same time. Great birthday present. My wife and I need it so we can cut our arguments in half.

I should have started with Pol Pot and other dictators "if it's a boy". By the time I got to Raistlin she would have been relieved.

Seriously, Raistlin.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

dead man walking

I gave my two week notice last week. It was unique circumstances - I actually like everyone in my group. I'm good at what I'm doing; I don't feel like I'm burying bodies as I go. That's normally how I feel when I'm leaving a job; some detective wants to ask me about suspicious items in my refrigerator. Not this time. Any bodies we ate, we ate as a team.
Good bosses, too. Not much to say about it, except the work wasn't what I should be doing. After I stopped doing stand-up and started thinking "hmm this should be something I like if I'm not planning to ditch it for LA", it started getting tough to stay. The problem is the software package - Oracle Configurator. This is the most un-user friendly piece of shit program I've ever had the displeasure of using. User interfaces become corrupt by an errant mouseclick. The Customer facing piece responds sluggishly to mouse clicks, and often "loses state" and takes you to an error page, making you start over. It plays poorly with the rest of Oracle Applications as well - sometimes you make some changes but you don't make ENOUGH changes and when you attempt to publish it, it doesn't do anything. That's not exactly true - it doesn't make a new publication, but it makes sure the old one isn't usable anymore.
In fact, let's talk about the UI for a minute. Through a series of mouse clicks, you add pieces of a user interface. It's fucking terrible. In order to create a table in this monstrosity, you'll click 45 times instead of rendering some HTML with a few typed commands. There are templates, that make life a little easier. You only have to do the 45 clicks once instead of once for every option in your model.
It's a good thing they make templates so easy, too. Remember when I said sometimes you click and it throws an error? A lot of times that piece of crap error will ruin the user interface you were working in and you'll have to rebuild it.
God, I hate that fucking program. It's not even sensible.
The rest of Oracle Applications isn't much better. I'm thoroughly convinced the reason Oracle Applications experts make so much money is because they have to put up with one of the worst ERPs ever created.
Try working with the forms implemented in the Defaulting Rules user interface, see how many errors you can raise in one session. Go ahead, it's easy - just click on the header when you're in a different page block.
(you can do that in Configurator too - try adding a second Configurator Extension with "Save And Add Another". That button should be labelled "Null Pointer Error" because that's what you're about to get)
Whew, glad I got that off my chest.
I'm probably just coming to the "getting old" realization that "90% of everything is crap".
But Oracle Applications has become too much to bear. I'd rather build my own, or try something completely different.

Yikes, massive rant that everyone hates. Back to work - I'm within my "notice period". I don't know why that needed quotes, but it feels like it does. The last two weeks are always tough. The job seems 1000 times better because a lot of the annoying distractions fade away. Nothing's THAT annoying when you think "I only have 8 more days of this crap." So then all that's left is the meat. The problem solving. The "I'm an expert". The "we're going to miss you!"

Hurts a bit.
And then I went and listened to "Helplessness Blues" from Fleet Foxes on the way in this morning and nearly fell apart at the seams.

Monday, May 23, 2011

conundrums (tech, freedom, etc)

So twitter's constrained their terms of service to not allow you to display tweets with their API if that's all you're doing.
I guess writing something to harvest them for spammers is ok, but listing them in a python interface window is too close to Twitter's Mission or some shit*.

I'm starting to sound like the old man on the porch, here.
"fuck facebook, maaaaaaaaan, it's the Prison Planet!!!"

Google Opt Out Feature Lets Users Protect Privacy By Moving To Remote Village

But I'm thinking I should be treating twitter with some of the same disdain reserved for Facebook. Build the network by offering a free an open API, when network is built start locking that shit down and shutting out the ones that brought you to the dance. . . . crap.

Maybe it's just a case where twitter just isn't my style so I'm poo pooing it easily. I'm a long winded fuck.
140 characters or less isn't my style, but it might be better for the world

* Many many terribly inaccurate things in my argument include, but are not limited to: assumption I'm using the API right; assumption I've correctly configured the firewall; assumption I've read the documentation and internet guides correctly; assumption I'm not terribly lazy and didn't skip most of these steps, but assume Twitter's forbidden the app; etc

brewery of note

I've really been loving all the offerings at New Holland brewery these days. The High Gravity series in particular is fantastic: Dragon's Milk and Mole Ocho are both great, and 4 Imperial Hatters are chilling in my fridge ready for consumption with dinner.
They have a fantastic oatmeat stout - The Poet, complete (compleat??) with raven sigil.
The only one I've had I'm not sold on is their Golden Cap Saison Ale; most of the "New Holland" flavor profile seems to clash with the lighter offerings. But maybe that's just my dumb palate.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

It's lonely on the internet

I quit facebook about a week ago. On Friday my account (and probably my fan page) will become defunct.
There's quite a few reasons why - the last straw wasn't so much a last straw as a reevaluation of the Case Against Facebook, namely:
  • Their privacy policies towards your data have changed without notice, and FB will change it again without telling you
  • They take licensing rights when you upload a picture - they can profit off of your party photos if they figure out how
  • Those party photos are ridiculously incriminating evidence, delete those tags! Too bad others can tag you without you opting in, huh?
  • That party you went to, you didn't get there through a FB invite. Jesus those things suck.
  • They're in a low-level ground war with their content providers like Twitter - the crappy implementation in Facebook is no accident. They're trying to squeeze out anyone that's not Facebook from grabbing eyes.
  • Why is FB free? They're compiling a dossier of data on you unparalleled in the internet era. Who your "friends" are - and it's not just dead data. It's who you actually interact with. What pages you visit. What photos you click on. What shows you Like. What articles you click through. What apps you play. It's comprehensive and a difficult data stream to poison with "fake facts" because all of your connections reinforce the story of You.
  • Who's the customer of that data? Marketing firms, sure. But it's the CIA's wet dream, that's certain.
  • They hired a PR firm to spread concerns about Google's privacy issues. That's like Ted Bundy hiring a PR firm to smear OJ Simpson. We're pretty sure Google's done it, but Facebook's buried bodies all over California and New England.
Ultimately, it came down to a few simple facts. Yes, Facebook is easy to use. Yes Facebook let's me maintain shallow relationships with a ton of people, and is an invaluable marketing tool (not really, we'll come to that). It is a lot more fun than twitter when it comes to posting quips and bon mots; you can interact with other people to a far greater degree.
But the cost is too high, and the "big idea" - a social gathering place online - existed before Facebook and will continue on past its demise. Ask MySpace.
So I quit. I can be found here from now on - I'm consolidating my technical page here as well. There's no reason to Super-Hero it up with a secret identity as a programmer. I'm a funny fucking programmer who swears too much. I'm also damned good at my job. The shit I write about shouldn't preclude me from work.

Because that "Facebook's a great marketing tool" is a fallacy. Your own website is a great marketing tool. Facebook could be a venue that you market it on, but it shouldn't be the source of your internet presence. Nor should twitter, nor MySpace, nor anywhere that's proprietary. The real beauty of the internet is that anyone can tend a garden here. All the tools are free, and the knowledge is out there for you to buy or learn.
And if you build it yourself - well, Facebook doesn't get to take it away for violating the terms of service.
The AppStore doesn't get to pull your site.
OK, Google can destroy your search indexing and completely obliterate your existence. But Google's OJ and we're pretty sure he was innocent of murder.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tomorrow, tomorrow

It would be pretty hilarious if Rapture DID come tomorrow. I'd certainly say "holy shit!"
I'm not really sure how it works for me.
I was a pretty hard core believer through most of high school. I've read the The Late Great Planet Earth, Mere Christianity, a fair amount of THE BIBLE, and at least 1,000 pages of other religious works.
So I was Most Definitely Saved.
Then I got to college, read the first two creation stories in Genesis, realized there was a chronological order issue in creation. Which is created first, animals or Man? BZZT WRONG Man was intelligently designed from monkeys by the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Seriously, though, it's both.
Genesis 1:1-2:3, 2:4-25 contradict each other on when man is made, prior to or after the animals. I read that, and my world changed forever.
Atheist immediately.
Robert Heinlein helped; Jubal Harshaw points out II Kings(2 Kings 2:23-25) - Elisha and the bears, where God kills 43 kids for mocking a prophet's bald head (seriously, go ahead and read it) It never sat right with me.
But I was saved once, right? IT SHOULD STILL COUNT. ;)

One of the brilliant things zen buddhism got right was the koan - it's supposed to be inscrutable. Here's one I like: "A monk asked Ummon: `What is Buddha?' Ummon answered him: `Dried dung.'"

One final thing on the Rapture Hoo Hah - anyone who's telling you dates is utterly full of shit. Jesus himself says "I will come like a thief in the night" - the implication is nobody will know when.
Vainglorious priests seeking airtime ... how trite.

Friday, May 6, 2011

fundamentally incapable

An important lesson to learn is what you're not good at. It's one of the harder lessons to learn - we're predisposed to think we're better at stuff we're bad at.
But sometimes reality just Lets You Know.
To this day I still think I'm a secret physical prodigy; my fantasies of "taking control" of situations often involve a level of kung fu I simply don't possess. Hell, I can't even touch my toes. But a bicycle kick in the grocery line, showing the inconsiderate bastard in front of me who's boss? My brain's completely plausible idea.
When I began to learn ice skating, my internal timeline was "I'll be skating backwards in a month or so." A month later I face plant on the ice WITH A DATE, and leave a tooth on the ice. Gravity, momentum, and puberty conspired to illustrate what the word klutz meant. The tooth is still dead, a living (dead) monument to my physical competence.
It makes me afraid of things I'm actually good at; where is my next figurative faceplant going to happen?
Maybe I'm a terrible programmer. I've written (or attempted to write) "Hello World" probably a thousand times. But I've never opened a socket.(tee hee hee)
I just hope I'm not missing the boat on my life's work. Is it writing? Is it the comedy I keep saying I don't want to do, yet seethe with envy at people who do?
Is it programming?

A perverse part of me wishes taking good shits was my life's work. I could get behind that. Ahem.