Archive for December, 2005

Emerge and infinity..

Wednesday, December 28th, 2005

One of the popular reasonably-new* linux distributions uses the command ’emerge’ to download and install packages. This seems a unusually apt choice of words when you consider my inifinity argument, which I’ll repeat here even though you all have heard it a billion times before.

All of the wonderful software and music and our DNA and, well, basically, everything is lurking inside infinity waiting for us to find it. That album Mischief Committee did already existed, in mp3, ogg, and wav formats, long before we ever recorded it – lurking inside infinity. Copyrighting digital media is like copyrighting addresses on a number line. What we programmers and musicians do is emerge peices of infinity that were already there.

I’d like to make it clear that this isn’t neccesarily my final answer on this .. my opinions, as on all things, may change as I grow. But it’s where I sit right now.

* = compared with, say, slackware

A script for parsing dhcp stuff..

Tuesday, December 27th, 2005

Should anyone happen to use ISC’s dhcp server and need a script for parsing the leases file..


The tragedy that is law.. (more lofty thoughts)

Tuesday, December 27th, 2005

As per this document, the government once considered Einstien to be a felon because he supported Communism.

I really get angry whenever I think about the ’50s and communism. First of all, the U.S. is supposed to be based on freedom – ostensibly, freedom of speech, freedom to peacefully assemble, freedom of religion – and the state religion is capitolism, this we know, but, why should it have ever been a felony to hold a economic ideal contrary?

In fact, it seems likely that armed with good computer networks, you could make communism work. The basic idea is just ‘everybody works, everybody eats’ – it’s just the implimentation that gets tricky.

In any case, I’m glad that I can now be a member of the comunist party if I want to without fear of government repraisals. (Well, unless the NeoCons get their way, in which case I will be thrown in jail for a list of offenses too long to mention here, almost all of them informational in nature)

The FBI has a long history of chasing down people that the public likes – Einstien and John Lennon are a couple that jump to mind, but there are a lot of them. I’ve come to think of the U.S. government as basically evil on all fronts, a beast that must be put up with because there is no way to get rid of it that doesn’t cost more blood, sweat, and tears than it is worth. I hope that over time, the next generation, which has grown up with many tools and ideas that the last generation did not have, will replace the government with something that’s worth having – somethign that doesn’t lie, doesn’t define actions as crimes unless they hurt other people, something that tries to minimize the number of laws and always go for simplicity in defining them, something that doesn’t permit corperations to put acquisition of wealth above the needs of their human components..

I don’t know. I really hope that things continue to get better with time. But I see Dubya. And he lied, and everyone.. liberals, conservatives.. everyone.. knows that he lied, he started a war on false pretenses, killed thousands of innocent people – and nothing bad is happening to him. Nothing bad will happen to him. He’ll get rich, and other people will get the idea that what he did is right and good and proper.

I mean, the only way I can make dubya make sense is if we’re all living in the matrix and he just exists to try to make me angry so that I’ll generate more energy. I can’t understand why no one is stopping him.. why soldiers are still willing to fight.. why people are deluding themselves that this battle is morally right – or neccesary – or economically wise.


Next problem: Kayti wants to move back to Colorado – and I don’t – but I don’t want to break up with her. I don’t want to give up the band, and the good sushi, and all my friends in Seattle. But… argh.. it’s very upsetting.

I want one..

Sunday, December 25th, 2005

quasi-epiphany.. more lofty thoughts

Thursday, December 22nd, 2005

I just had one of those epiphanies that would hav ebeen obvious to anyone but me.

The big difference between liberals and conservatives, at least right now, is which direction in time they are travelling. Liberals are travelling – or at least looking – towards the future, while conservatives are travelling – or at least looking – towards the past. It’s not ‘conservative’ in the sense of ‘conserve resources’. It’s conservative as in ‘change as little as possible’.

Which works just fine until you hit that oncoming train that you thought was the light at the end of the tunnel.

[Sheer tries to improve on his optimism some]

I have foot in mouth disease

Thursday, December 22nd, 2005

’nuff said.

To clarify..

Wednesday, December 21st, 2005

Kayti doesn’t actually neccesarily think being adopted has caused a negative impact in her life. Other people are of the opinion that it has and have told her that and she has talked about it with me which set me to thinking and worrying and whatnot.

One more side note..

Wednesday, December 21st, 2005

Kayti was adopted, and has talked about how being adopted might have negatively impacted her life. Sometimes I worry that my son, who was adopted because at 19 I didn’t really feel like I had either the emotional maturity or the financial stability to raise a child, will have had his life completely ruined by being adopted and will blame me and think that I didn’t love him.. but it was because I did love him that I gave him up for adoption. (Insofar as one can love a entitiy that one doesn’t know yet and in fact doesn’t exist, at least in this world, yet)

I don’t know. I wish I could be sure I had done the right thing. OF course it was partially up to the mother (who is on my friends list and might or might not come forward and comment about this)

Nathaniel, if you’re reading this ten years later and hating me, I’m sorry. I did what seemed to be the best thing to do at the time. That’s pretty much how I live my life, except when I do what definatley doesn’t seem to be the best thing to do at the time. Which I also do occasionally although I’m slowly learning not to.

Notes from the happy meme breeding ground

Wednesday, December 21st, 2005

Okay, so, I’m watching my CDs get ripped into OGG at a prodigious rate. I’ve decided to undertake, in between working on paying work, the herculean task of ripping my entire CD collection. Now, understand, I have a LOT of CDs. 500 would not be a underestimate. So this may take a while. On the other hand, when I’m done I’ll be able to listen to all those B-sides that I never listen to any more because since the whole mp3 thing happened I can’t be bothered to deal with physical media.

I’ve been thinking about how in the last ten years the internet has turned into the happy meme breeding ground – kind of a bizarre monument to humanity. You want a snapshot of the good, the bad, the ugly, of humanity and human emotion and thought, the internet definately gives you that. And it literally is a happy breeding ground for memes. I’m glad that I’ll have it to entertain me when I’ve gotten old.. if I don’t die first.

It seems hard to beleive that I Happened to be born just as the Net happened to be coming into widespread use. Unlikely in the extreme.. I feel almost as if I were directed here somehow. Yet another point on my ‘reasons I suspect there are higher and lower powers’ sheet.

I wonder what new memes the ‘net is breeding as we speak, and if it is improving humanity. Of course, back to my old evil-thinks-it’s-good-and-we’re-evil motif, I guess part of the problem is that different people define improving as different things. For example, I think complete irradication of all STDs and conception only by human volition would be a improvement, but lots of those right-wing-bible-belt types think that it would be completely evil because it would let people have sex with whoever they want and not have babies. ANything that feels good is a sin and must have a punishment associated with it! Ya!

I promise I’ll get off this religion kick soon enough. In the meantime, has anyone heard of a religion called the B’Nai or something similar? The infamous Christian On The Plane mentioned it to me as a religion that tried to synergize all of the world religions into one cohesive text, which sounds both fascinating and like something I’d be very into.

I’m heading towards a daylight schedule again, so perhaps I’ll be able to actually go to church or something. My parents always used to go to church for Christmas Eve, and I’m oddly tempted but don’t know how welcome I’d be at a completely unfamiliar church. On the other hand, there’s that line from Larry Niven’s Fallen Angels – ‘It’s God’s house, aina? All are welcome..’. Then again, that’s from Minnesota where everyone is all welcoming because another warm body means that much less heating oil needs to be burned.. 😉

Okay. Back to the happy meme breeding ground concept.. one of my possible views for the origins of free will is a combination of a programmable filter and a noise (i.e. true, cryptographically random noise) source. [side note: I’m beginning to entertian the idea that there is no such thing as a true random number generator]. The filter gets ever more complex as you load more data into it by having various experiences, reading, thinking, etc. The internet is a enormous source of data to shove into the filter, and what’s more, represents a chance for data to resonate back and forth between people, so the filters can grow more and more complex as a group as well as as individuals. A few great examples of meme breeding grounds are livejournal and everything2. (And for those of you who’ve never tried out everything2, you really should.

This whole free will thing is important to me for a couple of reasons:

1) I have never seen a computer show anything that even remotely resembles free will. On the other hand, they only have a couple of million transistors to our billions of neurons, so it may just be that it’s a emergant property that requires a more complex network than we can yet put togeather.
2) I’m writing a story about a computer virus that accidentally causes the internet to become a sentient individual with free will, and details some of the complexities of the authors of the virus interfacing with their creation, among other things

Anyway, that’s probably enough of my inane rambling for now.


Tuesday, December 20th, 2005

I am so sold on this whole OGG low-bitrates is better than MP3 thing..

I recently had occasion to encode a boatload of voice samples to several codecs, including mp3, GSM, ADPCM and low-bitrate WAV. Much to my suprise, the codec that ended up being

a: The easiest to impliment on a windows CE handheld (code snippet below)
b: The best sounding with the smallest files

was OGG.

So now I’m ripping a bunch of CDs that I’ve been meaning to rip for oh, say, about 6 years now, and I’m ripping them to 160kbit OGG. Enyc will be pleased.

Code snippet (I wish I could credit everyone here, but I don’t even know who all worked on it – I modified code I found at PocketOgg is located, along with the static libs you need to link against, at for anyone who wants to do a oggplayer. Note that this code becomes the controlling thread, so you’ll need to do some thread management – because I was using it inside my CEShell, a program I wrote to handle thread management, this wasn’t a problem for me. Anyway, I hope it’s useful to someone someday.