Archive for September, 2007

Oh and by the way.

Friday, September 28th, 2007

does anyone have a use for three very-linux-friendly PCI voice modems?


Friday, September 28th, 2007

I have to say, I have a rather low opinion of digium.

I paid a rather outrageous price for one of their phone interface boards, becaues it would do things like caller ID and hang-up detection that a voice modem wouldn’t. Or so I thought.

Probably it will in fact do these things, if I ever get the drivers installed. However, the nice manual that comes with it makes references to two servers, and, that don’t exactly work as advertised. doesn’t, in fact, exist, and isn’t real hot on answering ftp requests – though it manages http is also *not* links-friendly – it wants to be used by a graphical web browser. And, thanks to a rather annoying redirect, you can’t just cut & paste the link for the zaptel drivers to wget. Honestly, people, ever heard of *including the drivers on a CD*? Or, failing that, making sure that you keep the servers that the instruction manual references *up*? This is what terrifies me about Windows XP – microsoft has to keep the authentication server up in order for it to work, and I’m sure that by the time ten or so years have gone by, they’ll decide to make us all upgrade by shutting it down. For that matter, Ubuntu has a bit of that going on as well.

In other news, apparently I’ve missed the entire point of sex.

More code..

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

As a exercise while I was blocked on a coding problem for work, I wrote a streaming icecast client in Flex. This isn’t a particular accomplishment or anything, but I thought you all might find it amusing nonetheless. It’s the first step on the road to revamping Sheer Sound Studio’s web site – this particular one replaces the old wshr player, and is at

I’m not saying this is any great peice of code, and it’s blatently based on one written up elsewhere on the web (I should really dig up where..) – but here is a streaming mp3 player in flex, take one:

(p.s. the VU meter is pure Sheer. Cute, isn’t it? Next version will have it colorized. Or maybe i’ll throw in a spectrum analyzer? Nah, let’s not get too clever. Better to get around to doing the database driven music browser for sheersoundstudios.)

Kayti did this parody of the Beastie Boys’ “Girls” for me…

Sunday, September 16th, 2007

Trains, all I really want is trains
And in the morning it’s trains
Cause in the evening it’s trains

I like the way they move
And it’s chill to hear them choo
And I can always make them run
Through the kitchen would be fun

Back in the day
There was this track ran near the bay
Was owned by my pal’s fiance’
He said with trains he did not play
I asked him, “Please?” he said, “You may.”
The gauge was tight and that’s okay
When I ran cars too fast they’d sway
I hoped that on the track they’d stay

I have to say that when I switch them they obey
I have a rather large array
They come with sound and lights and they
Can bring my lover a bouquet
Sometimes they break and I must pray
I fix the track and clear the way
I ran it just the other day
Still it derailed to my dismay

Trains – to move the dishes
Trains – to run through my room
Trains – right through the laundry
Trains – into the bathroom
Trains, that’s all I really want is trains
Four at a time I want trains
The DCC style I want trains
I’m gonna link ’em like chains, trains, trains, trains, trains!

Meme alert

Friday, September 14th, 2007

(from Cori)

If there are people on your friends list who make your world a better place just because they exist, and who you would not have met (in real life or not) without the Internet, then post this same sentence in your journal.


Thursday, September 13th, 2007

Since before the dawn of mankind’s harnessing of the electron, we’ve been searching for a way to send messages far and fast. Pony express, smoke signals, jungle drums, bells.. and through this, the most bizarre of centuries, we’ve gone from jungle drums, through people hunched over morse keys, to electromagnetic radiation, to a multi-megabit telegraph line.. and onward.

Is it instinct that makes us search for ever better, faster ways to move information? Why?  And ultimately, where does this end?

Once, in a very altered state of mind, I suggested to a family member who has some DOD contacts that they should be researching fusion reactor-pumped lasers to “back up the internet”. Of course, you can’t, by the time you’d backed up a few gigabytes, it’s changed again, that’s why it’s the net..  but I do wonder. It seems that the universe is designed to coherently organize information.

At various points I have commented about how digital media is just very large numbers, and how all of it already exists and should be no more copywritable than the number two. Now I’m going to present the counter-argument.

Recently, I started work (one of the things I work on in my off minutes when I don’t feel like playing video games) on some code to brute-force a algorythm. It doesn’t matter which one, and I’ll save it – and what I’ve learned so far – as a suprise for a later post – but, in essence, the approach is to generate all possible perl programs that are <=256 bytes long, and then eval them, with a wrapper that avoids the halting problem by killing off the evaluated code if it has used more than a second worth of CPU time.

Originally I was going to create a SQL table that contained all of the possibilities, and then update it as I tested each one. Then I did a little math..

Assume you use a 52 byte character set for your perl.  There are 1.6923032801030364133169031885639e+125 possible combinations of 256 bytes containing one of 52 values.  That’s more than 2^400 . Good luck storing that..

And that’s 256 bytes worth. Anyone want to calculate the odds of two intelligent life-forms converging on a 5 minute song?

Of course, they do. That’s the really interesting bit. Some people are wondering if we ever find intelligent life other than us, if they’ll have heard of this cat named Jesus. Me, I’m wondering if they’ll have heard of the 5 and 12 tone scales, and if not, if they’ll have similarly geometric music – or art of any kind.

Anyway, never mind a 5 minute song – how long does it take to select for a DNA strand which represents 4GB just in base pairs and possibly many, many times that if all of the data found within are considered.. (I’ve given up on trying to guess what the payload of DNA is, but if I had to stab in the dark, I’d say it’s more than a petabyte. Then again, I’m horribly uninformed on the subject. If anyone finds a hard number – even to approximately the number of zeros involved – please let me know)

Okay, information tends to want to organize. There’s no other good explanation for humanity.  Interestingly, it would seem that the future is generally better than the past – I gesture you to prohibition 80 years ago, segregation 40 years ago, and the current ongoing war to give those of different sexual orientation or identity the freedom and safety they deserve – and I probably won’t even understand the issues that my kid fights for, but they will also be part of the perpetual arc towards what I would call true humanity. What makes me sad is that I’ll probably be fighting against what my child is fighting for, even though, unless I forget everything I have thus far learned, I will know I am the one who is wrong (insofar as anyone ever can be right or wrong) because humans seem to be wired that way.

I can’t really imagine the mindset of those who fought for slavery, or segregation, or those who fight against the right for gays to marry, or people to change gender at will, or the right for more than two people to marry, or a whole host of other similar things. I can’t get into their heads, so I can’t tell how I’ll know when I’ve become one of them.

Speaking of segregation.. I recently stopped in a gas station to fill the car and use their restrooms – and they had two single occupant restrooms, marked male and female. How’s that again? Why would one have gender assignments on restrooms for one person? This really doesn’t seem like it makes sense to me.  I’m not even sure that having seperate restrooms per-gender makes sense to me any more..

Back on the subject of information..

I sort of wonder if the amount of information on some of my larger servers isn’t starting to approach some critical mass – if there isn’t a maximum amount of data that it’s safe to store, after which very strange and Terry-Prachett-esque things start happening to space, time, and other information that gets too close. All of you who have large disk arrays know how they seem to fill up about as quickly as you can keep adding disk to them – and it’s not all TV show downloads and home movies.

Perhaps I’ve already dissapeared below the event horizen in my own black hole – surrounded by spinning vortexes of condensed knowledge.

Good clean fun..

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

One of the things that I’ve been getting at least a little bit of enjoyment from lately is a bit of culture-jamming.

I have subscribed to a couple of the especially egregious conservative ‘mail-your-congressmen’ lists – and whenever they send out a request, I go to their site, edit the email so it says what I want it to say, and then send it. Somehow this is more fun than doing it through the liberal lists.. I get this feeling of subverting the system…

Their latest whine is about the sexual nature of recent Carls Jr. ads. Now I in general hate advertising, and so I haven’t actually *seen* the ads in question, but I have to ask: what sexually themed ad could possibly be worse than, for example, ‘Cops’? In terms of messages being sent, violence seems a far far worse one to me than sexuality, and I think it’s truly sick that there are so many people out there that disagree.

Then again, I’m oversensitive to violence. I’m still having trouble with various violent incidents that occured in my past – some of them in my *distant* past, others more recent – I don’t really understand why I’m not just completely over them, and it’s upsetting to me that I can’t just be appropriately manly, or at the very least forget them. But I think I do have to recognize that I am much more affected by violence than the average human and so probably I abhor certain types of violence in  fiction (i.e. the characters on Friends [or any number of other sitcoms] hitting each other) much more than most people do.

On the third paw, I read a book a while ago about abused men which had some astonishing statistics in it [of course, anyone can lie with statistics] so perhaps i’m not as alone as i think I am.

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

I apologize for the extreme weirdness of the past few posts. I’ve been wrestling with a lot of very dark thoughts – and I feel like bouncing a few ideas around might help me find the truth or falsehood of them, and also understand how I feel about them better. Please don’t take anything I say too seriously.

In other news, I am going to try to reduce the number of comments I put in LJ – so expect most responses from me to be via email from now on. I’m *very* annoyed at LiveJournal – I’m sad to see that my subscription doesn’t run out until March 2008..

Perhaps I should turn off crossposting, but then no one will ever read my journal 😉

I have no idea why I want to have readers. Perhaps because I want to think that my thoughts matter to someone. Perhaps because it makes me feel like a author, which is one of the professions I’ve always aspired oh-so-slightly to.  Who can say.

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

A addendum to the too good for this planet: And I’m not alone…

I’ve talked about thinking that earth is a really odd video game before, I think. I’m starting to think that the Forces Of Darkness [as I will refer to those who are intolerant, practice hatred, physically attack people, lock people up, fight wars over resources, or do Other Things I Don’t Like] are a software construct, intended to make the game challenging. Why do I think this? Well, even when I talk to my republican friends, they aren’t fans of the attributes I’ve listed above. In fact, I don’t know anyone who actually thinks they *should* be playing thug, locking people up for not using the same morals table they do..

Crazy? Heh. I’m just *starting* to let some of my darker thoughts out of the cage I tend to keep them in. Trust me, you haven’t seen anything remotely resembling crazy from me yet.

I should clarify..

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

I would like to love everyone, regardless of race, gender, political leaning, or desire to throw me in jail / beat me / condemn me for who I am.  Unfortunately, I don’t seem to have yet quite achieved that level of detachment.  As a friend of mine once put it, I love half of everyone. I’m not very happy about that either. It’s a sad thing when you can’t even live up to your own ideals.

In other news, apparently LiveJournal has decided that they don’t care about losing users left, right, and center. I encourage any and all who are currently paying for accounts to notice the really horrid things LJ is doing and consider sending your $30 somewhere better – like a hosting provider? 😉 Or perhaps a homeless shelter, or a no-kill shelter for puppies, or your DVD collection.. or.. there have to be millions of things better to do with your money than giving it to a bunch of moralist, censoring.. never mind. I’ll stop now.