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Category: Humor
Tuesday, January 31st, 2006 @ 11:05 am
Posted By Brent

As many of you may know, my favorite picture in the whole world has been, for a very long time, the picture of Ann Coulter and Al Sharpton. That's hard to top.

I am posting today to tell everyone that, thanks to the magic of BoingBoing, I have found a new favorite picture. This one I believe may never be topped. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Shirley Temple slitting a man's throat with a butcher knife:



Category: Tech
Thursday, January 26th, 2006 @ 11:45 am
Posted By xerxes7
Okay, I guess it's been a little more than a week since the first part, so let's not delve into niceties and further delay this action.

When my giru uses teh lunix, it knows it's being used.

Presto! I got Kubuntu up and running. And like I said, it was smoooth. Next thing I wanted to do was pay tribute to the guy that helped nudge us into it by installing an app that he wrote. Now, being a slashbot, I've read about getting a tarball and all that jazz, so the fact that this was a .tar instead of the usual .zip or even a .exe installer as I was used to under Windows was really no surprise. I went ahead and downloaded the thing to my desktop as usual and gave it the ol' double click and a little window opened up showing me the contents, as might happen with a .zip archive. No problem- I'll just extract that to a folder and go from there. So I did.

Now I've got this folder full of stuff and no idea what to do with it. I do a little bit of reading around and don't come up with much. Hell, I don't really even know what to look for. And of course our beloved webmaster is supposed to be coming over in an hour or so and I was really wanting him to just sit down at our computer and see those blinking lights and be a proud papa. No dice.

So he gets to the casa and I explain how I've failed him and he chuckles and all good graces and stuff explains how I've got to go to the command line for that stuff. He tells me about the holy trinity of make, make install, and something else (I'll get to that in the next installment) and totally gets it working in like ten minutes. Now for those Chronicles of Crystal (which is why he and his had actually come over).

But then my chica comes in and asks about playing videos, something which we had realized in the previous day or so that we weren't doing with much success. Now, this was all several months ago and hurricanes and moving and so on so I don't remember all the details, but this seemed to have gotten a little problematic. I tried hard to pay attention, but when you don't know how to do something and you watch somebody for whom it is second nature to do something do that very something, you tend to miss the finer points of the something doing process. All I know was that there were some frustrated sighs and after maybe 45 minutes of work we were in video watching bliss.

So being the sport that he is, before getting out of the chair he asks if we have any other pressing questions. And that's when I discovered one of the things that probably bugs me the most.

See, we needed to save all of the mp3s and precious documents from the old windows installation so that we could have them under the enlightened rule of the Grand Wizard Linus. So we took an old hard drive, threw everything important on there, and called it good. When we got Kubuntu up and wanted to make sure that we could listen to those mp3s and open those precious documents, I tried to look at that hard drive and... it wasn't there. Just couldn't see the damned thing. Luckily, we had a cd or two with stuff on them. I dropped it in the drive and a handy little icon showed up on the desktop announcing that a cd was there. That's how we tested the functionality of the programs. This is important. A compact disc can be placed in the cd drive and it will just magically appear.

Do you know what a flash drive is? It's great. Usually smaller than a disposable lighter, flash drives are like little hard drives that plug into your USB port and allow you storage on the go. Like a floppy, but a billion times better. Guess what. You put a flash drive in the USB port... it magically appears. Hell, I got momma a digital camera for Christmas. If I plug that thing's cord into a USB port... it magically appears. I know various distros have their little quirks and this kind of thing might have to be configured manually, but we're talking about Kubuntu- an easy distro. Shit just appears when you present it. So why in the hell is a hard drive that is there when the computer is turned on not available from the get go?

Turns out it's because I didn't tell Linux where to look for it. The fuck? I don't tell Linux where to look for a CD, it just SEES it. I don't tell Linux where to look for a flash drive or a camera, they're just there. I know that your mom probably doesn't have two hard drives to think about anyway (unless by hard drives you actually mean these nuts), but I see this kind of thing as a bit of a stumbler. It's a simple usability issue. But hey, it's solved for now, so we'll move on.

In case you're wondering, we drank beers, moved our crazy Finally Fantastic peoples around fairy land courtesy of our gameboys and had a nice night of it.

Now, all of my previous bitching aside, there's a little bit of boasting I've got. Weeks passed and eventually ladyfair's nephews came over for a day. Two young lads, aged like eight and ten. Both of them boast pretty much the level of computer literacy that kids these days do. They watch movies and surf the web and play games and all that without having to ask questions. So I was really curious to see what would happen when the elder of the two ventured into the office to see what minor update to the Spongebob site would captivate his imagination for an hour or so.

We never heard from him. He sat down, found the browser, navigated to his site and had his merry time and never asked a single question. People talk about the mom test, but I never read anyone talking about the kid test. Well, I'm happy to report that Kubuntu passed the kid test with flying colors. I mean it. Colors flying all over the damned place. Looked like a gay pride air show, it did.

So that pretty much wraps up my list of issues with the installation. Installing isn't really all that intuitive, getting video to work involved some voodoo, and hard drive recognition is (in my mind) a bit lacking. Next time we'll get into where I see things going from here. You can expect that in a week, so probably about two weeks.

Also, a quick shout-out to mah peeps at the wikimedia commons who made it possible for me to find that image up there and feel not a spot of guilt for using it, unlike when I just goog up some image and hope that the owner never finds it and bitches. So there.


Category: Tech
Saturday, January 21st, 2006 @ 05:56 pm
Posted By Brent

Some time ago I wrote a little PHP script to pull my "Recent Activity" RSS feed from Netflix and then try to glean what movies I currently had at home. The "Recent Activity" feed is an xml feed of what movies have been shipped to you and which ones have been received back at Netflix HQ. By cross-referencing which ones have been shipped but not received back I can figure out which ones I currently have. There is a small problem: the feed only contains five items so if you keep one movie at home and receive and send back two movies, the reception of the movie you still have is out of the feed and drops off my list.

Well, that problem still exists. This post isn't about how I fixed that. This post is about how, with the magic of AJAX (via the SAJAX library), I recently updated it with a little functionality to show my entire queue underneath it without reloading the page.

As it stands now I'm pretty sure it will only work in Mozilla/Firefox and Internet Explorer. I tried it in Konqueror but the absence of the DOMParser to handle navigating the XML feed, it ain't working.

Some of you may or may not have heard about AJAX, and some of you may be wondering what it actually is. It stands for "Asynchronous Javascript And XML." The quick and dirty of it is this: it uses the newer browsers' ability to reconnect to a webserver and pull new data while the page is live in your browser, without reload. The XML is there simply because it's an easy way to pull a rich dataset when you only have the ability to interchange text.

So that's it, look for it over there on the sidebar right underneath my Netflix queue thingy. I know it doesn't seem that amazing, but I thought it was pretty cool for my first foray into the new buzz in the Interweb world. That's how I roll, Web 2.0 style biatch.

If anyone's interested in the code just drop me a line and I'd be happy to scoot it off to ya. I'm not going to promise it's pretty to look at, but it works.


Category: Rant
Tuesday, January 17th, 2006 @ 03:53 pm
Posted By Brent

I'm pretty sure everyone knows about this by now, but just in case this news isn't traveling far enough to reach my displaced brethren, the Mayor of New Orleans apparently got injected with angel dust and gave a speech that was crazier than a burlap sack full of mongoloids.

On the day the nation uses to commemorate a man who, for all intents and purposes, gave his life in the pursuit of creating a society where the color of your skin is completely irrelevant, Ray Nagin decided to tell the world that God wants New Orleans to be so overwhelmingly black that he had to use the word "chocolate" to describe it's level of blackiosity. No seriously, chocolate.

Seeming as he didn't use a more inclusive dessert analogy like, say, Rocky Road, I can only guess that I'm not actually welcome there anymore. And while it's apparently open season on the horribly racist food comparisons, I have come up a new slogan to help all the Mexicans that now inhabit the city feel a little more at home: "Latin-Americans: You Put Your Peanut Butter in our Chocolate!" I think it's got a real ring to it. I'm pretty sure I don't have the ethnic immunity needed to get away with saying it, but I'm just following our bold Mayor's footsteps.

Ray Nagin, eat shit. I stuck up for your ass during this entire ordeal, but really, get fucked. I understand you had to say something yesterday, what with it being MLK day and being the mayor of the city that was the target of the magic Republican created, black-people seeking hurricane, but for fuck's sake man.

So, my peeps, is this getting any national media attention? Has this caused any blips on the news radar near the NorteƱo listening plains of Dallas or the eternally 72 degree and breezy hills of Southern California? If so, what sort of reaction is there?


Category: Tech
Monday, January 16th, 2006 @ 07:59 am
Posted By Brent

It's possible some of you have heard about Woot!, but in case you haven't here a quick crash course.

Woot! is an online retail store that sells one item each day (called "The Daily Woot") at an unusually marked down price. The Woot goes up at midnight and is sold until either a) the item is out of stock or b) the day is over in which the next woot is placed on the site. They usually sell high tech gadgetry, but I've seen fondue pots and hair curlers on there before. For a more indepth explanation try their Wikipedia article.

I've been known to hit the Woot from time to time but I've never bit the bullet and grabbed some swag, until recently. Actually, the first Woot I was compelled to bite on was a Monster Surround Sound speaker system they had up on New Years day this year. I had recently lost my computer speakers, along with everything else I've ever owned (thanks Katrina!), so you could say I was in the market. And for a paltry thirty bucks, or somewheres about there, it sounded pretty solid.

Alas, it was not meant to be. By the time I had noticed it they had completely sold out. In the "out of stock" sense, their artistic integrity was still very well intact.

But this would not be the last time the Woot and I would cross paths. For reasons stated earier, I was sans many of my home electronomagigs and a TV was high on this list for early replacement. Brenda has mentioned a 42" LCD she had an eye on over at Best Buy, which was somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,700, an egregious amount to be sure. But lo! A scant few days before we were to take a trip to Red Stick to settle on one, the Woot giveth. A sixty-one inch (!!!) beauty of a DLP Rear Projection TV for less than the 42" Brenda had been looking at. Add in $5 shipping for a 180 lbs TV, and a top notch blender bundled with it, I was sold. The Woot had me.

Now, I'm not a high roller by any means, this is too fucking much to spend on a television. The only way I can rationalize it would be to say that... well, I really can't rationalize it. At all. But holy fuck! I'm going to have a TV the size of God's face!

Lucky we have an extremely low interest loan from SBA, with a pretty reasonable payment each month. This is what they gave us the money for, sorta.

One of the things that sets Woot apart from the rest, apart from their odd "deal-a-day" scheme, is they truly are a funny bunch of bastards. Just read their post that accompanied my purchase: linky-poo. If that's not enough for you, just check out this correspondence I had with them when I initially had a little trouble placing my order:

Dear Woot,
I would like to buy one of the TV's you are selling today (1/12/2006) but my debit card has a frigging purchase limit of $2,500. I have more money in this bank account, but I cannot make a purchase larger than this on one card. Is there a way I could split my payments on two cards?
An email which was quickly replied to with this:
Sorry we are only able to use 1 card per transaction. You may try calling your bank to get the limit raised. Threaten them with bad poetry and tiki torches. This usually works for me.

These are my kind of people.