Archive for December, 2003

Random Pictures

It’s actually sunny outside today. Not bad for mid-december in Seattle.

Wrong side of the door
Cat on the wrong side of a door.

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Misdirected search terms

One interesting graph:

Traffic Stats

Top line is all incoming search engine referers. Middle is google. The bottom is:

Searches for the shortest day of the year.

All going to a 3 line throwaway post I made 2 years ago about lengthing the shortest day by spending some of it in airports and planes.

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Kipple drives out non-kipple

New Computer, aka. fava, came with the wrong keyboard and mouse. So I hooked up my ancient mechanical key AT connector’d battleship and nice optical mouse to it. Called the vendor (pricepc.com) and they sent me a replacement.

Since this is getting posted it should be abundantly clear that the appropriate keyboard didn’t show up in the mail. I now have 2 $10 special keyboard/mouse combos and a refund.

Free mice! Free Keyboards! You know you want one.

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dougal resting on the ledge

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Random Pictures in lieu of Words

So much for my plan of posting a lot of “So this is what I’ve managed to learn about windows” this week. So I give you a picture of an uncomfortable sleeping cat.

not a comfortable bed

And another random one that’s on the camera.

flowers on the wall

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New Machine

I’ve finally broken down and aquired a new windows machine, dual booting XP and some form of linux. It seems like a powerhouse, since by pure clock speed (and video ram) it’s faster than all the other computers in the office put together. Things have been a bit rough though:

  • They shipped the wrong keyboard and mouse– $10 specials instead of ergo/optical.
  • They didn’t include the root password for the linux install.
  • They shipped a different video card than ordered. (ATI 9200 SE 128, vs a 9000 64mb DDR) I’m not sure if it’s better or worse, but it doesn’t seem to be as well supported in the default X configuration. I probably just need an update, see below.
  • They shipped a different processor than I had expected – A 1.9 ghz Athlon 2600+ vs. the 2.13 Ghz 2600+. I think AMD just bumped the stepping while keeping the same part name, as it appears that I have a Barton core chip, instead of the older Thunderbird.
  • Redhat 9’s up to date function appears to be defunct.

So I’m looking for a desktop linux distro. RedHat is basically a non-starter, given the lack of an update service. I basically want Debian with modern packages, so I may try unstable, or maybe Mandrake or Fedora.

I was a little suprised at the lack of any ‘first time through’ windows walk through, to setup a net connection, download updates, and setup a non-admin user. After installing a bunch of programming tools and servers and such for windows, I’m a little annoyed that the standard process is: find, download, install, run windows update for essential security updates, and sometimes reboot. For Debian at least, the package you download always has the most recent security updates. I’ve also run across cases where the setup program must be run from the command line with some extra switches, cryptically noted by an obtuse dialog box.

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Bittorrent and Enclosures

Dave and Andrew Grumet are thinking along the lines that bittorrent is going to be an answer to the enclosure popularity problem. It shouldn’t be that hard to do, even given current tools.

Consider this setup using the current Radio Userland/XmlStorageSystem architecture.
There would need to be an installation of the bittorrent programs on both the client and the Cloud machine.

The cloud server could be configured to report a bittorrent tracker url as a resource that it provides, similar to how discussion servers are configured. This does not have to be the same machine as the cloud server.

  1. When the client sees that there is a gem of > some threshold, it runs the btmakemetafile.py script on the gem and uploads both the resulting .torrent and the gem files.
  2. Once the upload is complete, the cloud server kicks off a bittorrent download client pointing to the uploaded file, perhaps with a process lifetime of 1 day or so. This is the seed downloader that provides the initial copies to the cloud.
  3. The client uses the .torrent url as the enclosure in any rss feed that it produces. Most likely, the rss feed would need to be uploaded after the gem, to ensure that the torrent is already available.
  4. Optionally, the uploading client also starts a download client pointed at the existing file – to provide another early feed. We can’t rely on this as the sole seed feed though, since the client is likely to be disconnected from the net at times.
  5. Rss aggregators using the .torrent files can be programmed to leave their download process running for a few hours after the download has been completed.

There’s a good chance that this would reduce the bandwidth needs and push bittorrent adoption across feed readers that support enclosures — especially if the rss feed writer only includes a link to the .torrent.

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Middle Earth

In what has become something of a tradition, for better or worse, I spent a lot of time in Middle Earth over the long weekend – the extended Fellowship for Friday, the extended Two Towers for Saturday. Next year I can see a three day numb butt marathon.

I was impressed by how much better the extended Two Towers felt compared to the theatrical release. The added scenes tightened up the movie by showing the interconnectedness of the plot threads and adding just that more information about the motives of the characters. Aragorn and Gandalf’s discussion while looking out towards Mordor tied together all of the hope that is possible in their situation: the purpose of the quest is unknown, the enemy thinks that it’s the hobbits near Isengard have the ring, and the enemy is worried about the return of the heir of Isildur all the while showing Aragorn’s fear of human weakness in the face of the ring.

From the record, it’s pretty clear that the extended edition of the movies has always been the preferred format. It’s just that that preferred format doesn’t really mesh with the realities of the movie theater experience. The intermissions between each of the the dvd disks correspond reasonably well with the series’ 6 books. Each of those smaller books is a nice chunk for a 2 hour movie to bite off and present.

So around this time next year, I’m expecting to spend 3-6 nights with the 3 extended movies, similar to the 6 days that I spent 2 years ago hoovering up the books.

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Curried Sweet Potato Soup

Try it. Because it’s good. It’s probably 1/4-1/2 as spicy as I’d make a straight up curry. Kind of subtle in a good way.

  • Ghee – about 2x as much as you think is good for you. Maybe more. This makes it taste good.
  • 1 onion, diced.
  • 2 med-smallish yams/sweet potato, peeled, chopped.
  • 1 med red potato, peeled, chopped.
  • 6 cups assorted broth, I used 4 c roasted veggie and 2 c fake chicken.
  • some mustard seed 1/2 tsp?
  • some cumin seed 2-3tsp?
  • some cardamom seed 1/2tsp?
  • ground fenugreek, 1/2 tsp
  • 2 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • salt, hot pepper stuff to taste.

Melt the ghee, and cook the onions, mustard seed and 1tsp cumin till the onions are transparent and soft. While this is happening, toast remaining cumin and cardamom in a dry pan till browned. Crush with a mortar and pestle. When the onions are ready, add all the spices and stir till all coated. Add yams and potato, stir, then add the broth. the liquid should easily cover the chunks. Bring to boil, back off and simmer quickly for 20 minutes till the sweet potatoes are soft. Adjust with salt and pepper stuff. Put 1/2 in a blender, liquefy (or frappe, or what ever your favorite setting is) and return to the pot. If it’s not smooth enough, do another 1/2. There should still be a few chunky bits in a smooth thick liquid.

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